Most helpful positive review
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A wonderful DVD version of a unique film
on April 30, 2004
There really isn't another film quite like THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG. For instance, every line of dialogue in the movie is sung, yet apart from the heartbreakingly beautiful "I Will Wait for You," there are no songs. So, is it a musical? In form it seems more like an operetta. Musically, the dialogue is loosely organized, though certain musical themes are repeated often, and it lightly sung, none of the performers coming across as highly trained professional singers. Overall, the music, despite the presence of only one song, is entrancing.
As fine as the music is, I actually found the film to be more riveting on a purely visual level. For instance, inn scene after scene, I found myself focusing on the art design rather than the music. Demy frames most of his shots against backgrounds of more or less solid and striking colors--green walls, blue-stripped wallpaper, unusually painted building. Demy also employs a host of subtle camera angles and techniques. The film is unquestionably as much for the eyes as for the ears.
Most members of the cast were unknown to me, except, of course, for the surreally beautiful Catherine Deneuve, who was nineteen during most of the production of the film. She exudes star quality throughout. But none of the performers fails at all in their roles, though none of the others was the budding star that she was. One thing that struck me about all of the characters was that while the tale told is essentially a tragic one--or at least a bittersweet one--there are really no bad guys. Marc Michel, for instance, who plays Deneuve's wealthy suitor Roland Cassard, is a thoroughly likable person, even admirable. She clearly doesn't love him, but in no conceivable sense is he a bad person. Nino Castelnuovo's character Guy Foucher, for whom Deneuve's Geneviève Emery has asserted she "wait forever" turns out to be an inconstant correspondent, but apart from that he does nothing actively unkind to Geneviève. Geneviève's mother might push her towards Roland and away from Guy, but she is clearly motivated by a love of her daughter. The movie could have been subtitled: "A Tragedy with No Villains." The film is about love, but it is sadly not a love story. In a way, it deconstructs the kind of romantic myths that dominates the musical genre. This is the anti-Disney version of the possibility of eternal love.