#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)

#282 Belle de Jour

Watched: November 2 2020

Director: Luis Buñuel

Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Jean Sorel, Michel Piccoli, Geneviève Page, Pierre Clémenti

Year: 1967

Runtime: 1h 40min

Séverine (Deneuve) is married to Pierre (Sorel) and on the surface their relationship is perfect. He is a respected and successful doctor and she is… pretty. That’s basically all you need to make a marriage work.

Well, that and the occasional light BDSM

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However, there is trouble in paradise. Séverine struggles with her sexuality after childhood molestation and is unable to have a normal sexlife with her husband. Her sexuality is further confused by her BDSM/rape fantasies – fantasies she cannot act on or even communicate to Pierre.

“You’re right, it has been a while since we saw your parents. Perhaps we should go next weekend? Oh, and could you pick up some milk after work tomorrow? Great. By the way, I’m going to need you to tie me up and rape me in order to get over my sexual hang-ups. And Renee says hi! We played tennis earlier today.”

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Since therapy was obviously not yet invented in France in the 1960s, Séverine decides to deal with her problems in her own way, by becoming a prostitute. Every day between two and five, she entertains at Madame Anais’ (Page) brothel as “Belle de jour” – Beauty of the day. Now, while this gives Séverine an opportunity to explore her sexuality in a “safe” way (i.e. with no emotional involvement or societal expectation of purity), this charade cannot last. Especially when one client becomes more than just a random John…

What woman can resist an underfed, criminal, alternative rock band front man with violent tendencies and an emo haircut?

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We love us some Buñuel, and Belle de jour delivers. The surrealism he’s known for may not be as pronounced as in many of his other works, but there are definite influences in the blurring of fantasy, dream and reality. It’s also an excellent example of how to make something sexy and alluring without actually showing much skin, and a very interesting exploration of “broken” female sexuality.

Oh, and did we mention Séverine’s outfits by Yves Saint-Laurent? That girl looks gooood in this movie (as opposed to her usual drab and dowdy look, you know).

Life Hack: You can always tell fiction from reality based on how many coats a person owns. If you’re supposed to be middle class but have a new coat for every day of the month, you’re a fictional character. If you’re unsure about your own status, check your closet and start counting.

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The costumes were great, we loved the Asian client (what’s with the bells?? What’s in the box???), we loved to hate Mr Husson (a truly horrible man), and we really enjoyed not always knowing which part was real life, which part was fantasy… There was also a touch of À bout de souffle towards the ending. All in all, this was a winner!

“I never imagined it could be so… small. And shiny! Has it always been detachable?”

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What we learned: All the things that can fuck up a girl’s sexuality. Also, men can proudly visit prostitutes, but prostitutes must be ashamed of providing the service. Go figure.

Next time: Bonnie and Clyde (1967)