Saturday, January 10, 2015
464. Le Demoiselles de Rochefort/The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967)
Running Time: 124 minutes
Directed By: Jacques Demy
Written By: Jacques Demy
Main Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Francoise Dorleac, George Chakiris, Jacques Perrin, Michel Piccoli
Click here to view the trailer
A DOUBLE SHOT OF DEMY: 2 of 2
THE BOOK lists Agnes Varda as a co-director on this, but I can find no evidence of that ANYWHERE else, so I'm choosing to omit it. It also doesn't help that THE BOOK is occasionally wrong, so I'm more prone to believe, say IMDB, than the 1001 text. Anyway, another Demy movie and a worse one at that. Read on...
While The Young Girls of Rochefort doesn't spend the ENTIRE duration in song, like The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, it does use the majority of it. The story revolves around twin sisters, Delphine (Deneuve) and Solange (Dorleac), dance teachers who reside in Rochefort and who are both single. They're both pretty dreamy, staring out windows, hoping that Mr. Right comes soon to whisk them off their feet. They sing songs about being twins (the main theme of the whole film) and are just hap-hap-happy to be alive, apparently - except for the whole lack of men thing, that's a downer. Enter...a lot of people actually. First up, there's Etienne (Chakiris - the leader of the Sharks!) and Bill, two out of towners who also happen to operate a traveling fair, that just happens to be setting up shop for a weekend in Rochefort. Then there's a sailor (was Demy a lovesick sailor or something) named Maxence (Perrin), who has drawn a picture of the girls of his dreams, but has yet to find her. Coincidentally, the picture bears a striking resemblance to Delphine and the picture hangs in the town art gallery, which is run by Delphine's boyfriend, Guillaume. However, Delphine dumps him early on and spends the rest of the film wondering if she'll ever meet the mysterious painter of the picture. The thing is, the painter/sailor hangs out frequently at the twins' mother's french fry stand, but the two always seem to just miss each other (this whole movie is full of "one guy walks in a room, just as his dream girl is exiting" type scenarios). Meanwhile, Solange runs into Andy (Gene Kelly), literally and rushes off in a hurry. Andy realizes that Solange is HIS dream girl and spends the rest of the film wondering what she's like and looking for her. The twins' mother is also lovesick, as she separated from her Mr. Right because she didn't like his last name (Dame - meaning his name was Mr. Dame; or Mr. Woman) and now regrets the choice.
Man, I just couldn't settle into this one. I've really dug Demy so far (the other two I've seen anyway) and so with a blow away cast like this lined up, I was expecting an all cards on the table type of production. However, I think THE BOOK nails it on the head when it gives it's assessment: the film is almost non-stop joy. There's not really any sadness or blue characters and perhaps it's all those smiles that just got to be a little nauseating. I'll say that the musical numbers got to be a bit much too, especially when one song would begin mere moments after one just ended. I was begging for a character to just deliver their dialogue with a straight voice. The whole affair is pretty pointless too. We have this handful of characters who are all single and yearning love, they all belly ache about it for two hours and then when we get down to the nitty gritty, we quickly wrap everyone up in their nice bow (except Guillaume, because dicks don't get to love!) and send us home just as happy as the vomit inducing characters in the movie. Well, not this viewer. I would've much preferred the film be kept closer to ninety minutes, cut a big chunk out of all the singing and the "I need love"/"where oh where is Mr. Right"/"my dream girl rushed off on me and now I'll spend the rest of my life looking for her" crap and just cut to the chase!
Okay, okay I'm being a tad harsh. It's not THAT bad, but it does get tedious after a while and seriously, a ninety minute running time would have and could have done wonders for the flow. Also, a little less singing and a tad more acting (you got the actors, use 'em) wouldn't have hurt matters either. As it is, the film, as per usual with Demy, is gorgeous. All the colors of the rainbow are on display and if they ever restore this and put it in IMAX, may God have mercy on our retinas. On the subject of Demy, I'm still overall impressed with his body of work (just judging on three films, mind you) and I'd be all for taking in even more of his films and trying to find that definitive one that suits me to a tee. I really liked Lola and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, but I feel there's a better one out there, one that I liked all around. If you dig musicals and don't mind lots of smiling, lovesick, good looking people, then blind buy this puppy and deliver it to your DVD player ASAP. Otherwise, take a pass and rent the previously mentioned Demy films instead.
RATING: 5/10 Call it down the middle and a disappointment, considering I was looking forward to this one. Can't win 'em all, I guess.
MOVIES WATCHED: 891
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 110
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