Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

We watched this masterful 1964 French musical last night. All the dialogue is sung, which is impressive, and the music by Michel Legrand features many familiar and lovely melodies. The plot revolves around a love affair and the unplanned pregnancy of a young single woman, played by Catherine Deneuve. The pregnancy is treated matter-of-factly, something you couldn't possibly imagine in an American film of the same period. The movie is a riot of colors; the current release was restored from three black-and-white separation masters ordered by the director, Jacques Demy.

Umbrellas was clearly an inspiration for La La Land, but unlike the latter film, which suffers from sluggish pacing in parts, Umbrellas sweeps the viewer along from start to finish. The jazzy score and recitative dialogue, along with the swirl of vivid colors, constantly delight the ears and eyes. As for the charming couple and their ill-fated romance... well, they're nice too.

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