#301 The Young Girls of Rochefort/Les demoiselles de Rochefort

Watched: January 31 2021 (Wow! It’s been almost a year…)

Director: Jacques Demy

Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Françoise Dorléac, George Chakiris, Jacques Perrin, Gene Kelly, Michel Piccoli, Danielle Darrieux, Grover Dale

Year: 1967

Runtime: 2h 0min

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Delphine and Solange (real life sisters Deneuve and Dorléac) are two very accomplished sisters desperately seeking men. Their mother, Yvonne (Darrieux), runs a café and regrets leaving her fiancé ten years prior due to his unfortunate last name (Dame). In their small seaside town, they sing, dance, frolick, endanger their children, and avoid meeting both their soulmates and axe murderers.

♬♪♫ Nothing bad will ever happeeeeeeen! ♪♫ And we must find love or we’ll surely diiiiiiie! ♪♫

The small town of Rochefort is an eventful one, and there are plenty of things going on. For instance, artist Maxence (Perrin) needs to lower his fucking expectations and perhaps focus more on what sort of personality his dream girl will have and less on what she will look like; Yvonne keeps letting COMPLETE STRANGERS PICK UP HER SON FROM SCHOOL, the complete madwoman; and one of the regular guests at her café is running around brutally murdering women.

Not to mention all the tourists playing fast and loose with gravity. The town’s really never been the same since the cruise ships started docking…

Oh, didn’t we mention that? 103 minutes into this romantic and sweet musical, a woman (Lola, actually) is brutally murdered. With an axe. And all the characters proceed to make jokes about it.

♪♫ Femiciiiiiiiiide ♬ C’est la vie! ♬♪♫

Les demoiselles de Rochefort is sort of the opposite of Weekend (which we’re coming to soon) – everyone is sweet and simple (except for the whole axe murderer subplot). It’s beautiful in its pastel ice cream colours, and the singing and dancing is everything.

Literally us sashaying around for a week after we watched it

Delphine and Maxence’s hopeless romantics are contrasted by the more sensible yet still artistic Solange and Andy Miller (Kelly). Then there are the fun and shallow carnies (Chakiris and Dale) and all the fantastic dance numbers. Sure, it’s mildly annoying that no one in this small town has ever met each other before, and Yvonne really is the world’s most irresponsible parent, but this is an incredibly sweet and charming movie which we’re going to watch annually. Do yourself a favour and join us!

♪♫ In the Navy ♬♪♫

What we learned: We need to step up our hat game if we’re ever to meet a man…

Next time: Two for the Road (1967)

#271 Cul-De-Sac

Watched: June 29 2020

Director: Roman Polanski

Starring: Donald Pleasence, Françoise Dorléac, Lionel Stander, Jack MacGowran

Year: 1966

Runtime: 1h 52min

For our thoughts on Polanski in general, read this.

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Two injured gangsters, Dickie (Stander) and Albie (MacGowran), come upon a castle on a tidal island where they are stranded due to the tide. The castle’s inhabitants, George (Pleasence) and Teresa (Dorléac) are taken hostage and pulled into a powerplay with Dickie.

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“We may be in a hostage situation, but it’s important to make time for bathing and bonding in between the threats of violence.”

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We were very excited about the concept of this, and it was definitely beautifully shot. We loved parts of it and other parts were a bit meh. For instance, we loved the opening credits, George’s bad paintings (they were supposed to be bad, right..?), the horrible Horace who came to visit, that one clearly fake seagull, Donald Pleasence, and the setting.

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“I sure hope no hardened criminals decide to invade us while we’re playing dress up. Like my wife, they will never take me seriously as a man.”

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However, we didn’t quite get the humour in this comedy… Which probably says more about us than the film itself, but there it is. The dinner party and the grave digging were fun scenes, and Pleasence was a joy to watch, but otherwise we weren’t that into it.

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Alas, poor Albie. We didn’t know him well.

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We also found Teresa a bit confusing as a character. First off, what woman who’s a victim of a home invasion will proceed to sleep naked when the (male) invaders are still in the house? In addition, we’re very much over women in movies/books/etc. who cry rape the minute a prank or seduction goes wrong. Considering the director as well, it left a bad taste.

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Pictured: perfectly normal behaviour for a woman captured in a bad marriage and an ACTUAL HOSTAGE SITUATION! Not gratuitous at all.

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It’s a great concept and beautifully shot in black and white. There are also good performances by all the principal players. But we don’t think this one will stay with us the way many other movies have done. To us, it became a bit forgettable. Perhaps we’re just too biased against Polanski to really enjoy his work..?

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It’s pretty to look at though. So we guess that’s something.

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What we learned: Dames! Also, if you want to come visit, have the courtesy to telephone in advance. Especially if you’re bringing your brat…

Next time: Daisies (1966)