on March 6, 2004
I first saw this movie when I was twelve and it was my favorite movie then. Thirty-seven years, and a lot of life experience later, it still is. When I first saw it, I took Mark Wallace's views on marriage very much to heart and found the difference between their early relationship and their subsequent marriage disturbing. Seeing it so many years later, I found all his anti-marriage rhetoric as a young man hitchhiking through Europe very amusing. American women "...want what their grandmothers wanted. Your head stuffed and mounted on the living room wall! And if you don't like it, you can take your lovin' self elsewhere." These lines and others are delivered within the classic framework of the man dedicated to preserving his freedom, and he keeps the anti-marriage line going throughout the film. Yet his devotion to the woman he decides to spend his life with is clear. Clearly, the single most touching scene for me was when Joanna returns from her affair with Maurice's brother-in-law, and Mark says, "You humiliate me. You humiliate me and then you come back." She nods. He reaches out and pulls her to him in a strong embrace and says, "Thank God!" in the most heartfelt way. There are so many scenes that I love ... the scene in which she first tells him that she loves him and he says, "I warn you." and she says, "Don't." Did Hepburn ever look lovelier than in that scene? Or when they are lying in bed the very first time and he says, "This is completely against my principles," and it turns out he's talking about sleeping in hotels, rather than outdoors in a sleeping bag.
I also like the part at the end where she says, "There'll never be anyone else in my life like you." When he asks if that's true she says, "I hope!"
The most revealing part of the movie for me, as an adult, was when Mark is walking out of the restaurant with his former girlfriend, Cathy Maxwell Manchester, who tells him that Howard is the "husband" type while he, Mark is the "lover" type.
I think the people who love this movie relate more to Joanna and Mark. They got together because of the intensity of their relationship. Those who hate the movie are more like Cathy and Howard. The "practical" aspects of a relationship are more important for them than the emotional ones. The message of the movie, I think, is despite the difficulties life throws you, it is ultimately more satisfying to cast your lot with the person you truly connect with.
on May 23, 2004
When Mark and Joanna Wallace see a pair of newlyweds in a car, amid a throng of rice-flinging well-wishers, the following exchange is heard.
Joanna: They don't look very happy.
Mark: Why should they? They just got married.
It's clear that the Wallaces' marriage has seen better days from that cynical observation. Joanna is sick of seeing her successful architect husband at the beck and call of a certain Maurice, her husband's jaded indifference and extramarital affairs. That leads to an introspective look at their past, given by a series of questions is posed. Where did it all go wrong? You haven't been happy since the day we met, have you? Why do we keep on with this farce? Is it worth it? And of course, how long is this going to go on? These also seem to reflect Hepburn's own marriage to Mel Ferrer, which would last for one more year.
The series of flashbacks, told non-linearly, takes the viewer seeing how Mark and Joanna first met, their travels with another married couple, and the time when they had their first child, when Mark's preoccupation in his career rather than his family reveals the first cracks appearing in their marriage. And the film's running gag involves Mark unable to find his passport, because Joanna has taken it from him. This comes into play as the one consistent thing in their relationship, and a reminder of the past.
By far, the days when Max and Joanna hitchhike across France are the happiest. Sure, they are on a strict budget, being rained on, and a temperamental MG auto, which has a destructive sendoff when it finally poops out. But they were like a couple of kids without a care in the world, having fun. "What kind of people eat without saying a word to each other?" The answer is married people, they say during their romantic period. Years later, when their marriage is on the rocks, they make the same observation, only this time it's about themselves.
David, Joanna's extramarital lover, puts perspective on things when he tells her "there comes a time when one must grow, when the old things aren't amusing anymore." So what does one do when the old things include marriage or being together? Does one stick it out and become more miserable and self-denying, or does one call it a day? What's clear is that promises of never disappointing one another, that the marriage will be one of heaven, and the magic disappears once things don't become personal anymore, but driven by something else.
The transitions between the different times can be differentiated in the car driven, Joanna's hairstyle, dress, and how happy Mark and Joanna are. Donen's sudden jump cuts from present to the various pasts are effective and creative.
Audrey Hepburn is wonderful as usual, and there's growth in the kind of character she plays. Joanna is a variation of Anna (Roman Holiday) or Sabrina, full of fun and laughter, but she also represents a departure from those genteel characters. Scenes where it's apparent she's nude under the covers--unheard of for Audrey Hepburn, right? And her playing an adulterous woman who humiliates her husband? Albert Finney does well as Mark, and his manners of speech range from the comical Bogart-like voice during their premarital trek to a tired weariness.
Two For The Road is also the last movie Hepburn did with director Stanley Donen (Funny Face, Charade). And upon a personal request from Hepburn, Henry Mancini does another winning theme song, fittingly sweet yet nostalgic. It sets a precedent for Audrey Hepburn, away from the innocent virgin roles of before. Despite this being an analysis of a marriage going sour, with moments of frustration and pain, there are moments of fun, and showing how despite changes, maybe being able to accept things as happened and moving with the future will save a rocky marriage such as the Wallaces.
on December 14, 2000
Stanley Donen, after making some of the most delightful musicals of the 1950s (Singin' in the Rain, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers), followed up with some of the brightest, most sophisticated comedies of the 1960s (Charade, Indiscreet, Bedazzled). Two for the Road is one of his very best, a deft and occasionally acid comedy aided immeasurably by Frederic Raphael's witty, elegantly structured screenplay. The story follows a well-heeled English couple on the verge of divorce on a motoring trip through France; through flashbacks, it follows the same couple through several previous French excursions, including their impoverished but happy honeymoon and an ill-advised journey with the husband's brainless old girlfriend, her pompous husband and their toxic brat of a daughter. The screenplay is supremely astute in depicting how love can change--and sometimes die--through the vagaries of time and human nature; but it is also supremely romantic in allowing love to triumph in the end. The film's structure is graceful and fluid, if sometimes tricky. Audrey Hepburn, that most exquisite of actresses, was never more radiant than she was here, and Albert Finney displays his bull-in-a-china-shop charm at full force. Eleanor Bron and William Daniels are a scream as the loathsome, proto-yuppie traveling companions of Hepburn and Finney. Henry Mancini's lovely theme music and Saul Bass's imaginative title sequence add the finishing touches to a movie that is as delightfully bittersweet as a Tobler bar.
on January 6, 2004
Some films from the Sixties have dated more than others. I loved this film when it first came out and for years had many pleasant memories of it. Some years ago, my English wife and I travelled across France by road from Calais to the Med and throughout the journey I had images of this film constantly re-playing in my head. So I looked forward to seeing it again after a long time. I don't know whether the times have changed that much, or I have. What once seemed witty, relevant, truthful, charming and modern now strikes me as a somewhat pretentious mess. I seem to remember more comedy than there actually is in the film. The scenes of the crumbling marriage are much too stark a contrast to the lighter tone of other scenes. Moving the storyline back and forth in time is not a problem, but the frequently uncertain tone is. Is it a comedy? A drama? A comedy/drama? A drama/comedy? Who knows? Certainly not Stanley Donen who was so much more assured directing Audrey Hepburn in Charade. Audrey is Audrey, even in the dramatic scenes. Albert Finney bounces between being a latter day Tom Jones and an upmarket Jimmy Porter. The chemistry between the two is marginal. The sequence with Eleanor Bron and William Daniels - two wonderful performers in other circumstances - now seems strained and tedious. The only saving graces are the French countryside and Henry Mancini's music (one of his best scores). Maybe someone seeing the film for the first time will enjoy it more. I remember once hearing that Meg Ryan wanted to do a re-make of Two For The Road. Lets pray to the gods of cinema that it never happens.
on March 23, 2002
I can't believe this film is not more famous. I had never even heard of it until I came on amazon to buy her other movies and saw it listed. I came upon it the other day in the video store and had to rent it. I was so impressed. This is now one of, if not my favorite Audrey movie. This is a movie like no other Audrey had ever made. The only downs to the movie are the poor editing job in one scene where Audrey is running from the side and is suddenly cut into the middle of the frame. The other is Audrey's other romantic interest half way through the film, the directors should have found someone better. These minor mistakes, however, do not take away from the overall movie. One of my favorite parts of the movie was when she said "bastard" to Finney in the most loving way. I have noticed in many of her contemporary romantic films she says one word in just the perfect way, she says it softly as she exhales and it just comes out wonderfully. Look for the words, you'll find them. This is a movie any Audrey fan must see!
on May 26, 2001
A unique film that I've seen many times for several different reasons. I'm aware of its flaws, but it remains special because of the story it tells and the abilities of the those involved in making it. Audrey Hepburn made a number of good films but this one and "Roman Holiday" (her first) are my favorites. Albert Finney's work here is equalled only by his work in "Tom Jones" (early is his career.) Stanley Donen's "Singing in the Rain" is one of the best musicals ever made, but "Two for the Road" is a unique dramatic comedy.
To those who suggest this film is mainly a Vogue fashion show, I reply, "You must be remembering other films Audrey made--like the overrated 'Funny Face'." To those who suggest the film is hard to follow, I say, "If you pay attention to the vehicles the main characters are traveling in, the clothes they both are wearing, and what they are saying, you won't be confused by the shifts backward and forward in time." I've worked with a lot of high school students who had no problems following the story because they quickly recognized these clues. In fact, one of the reasons the film is enjoyable is because those time shifts make it easier to explore the main characters' relationship."
I'm sorry "Two for the Road" rarely appears on TV while some of Audrey's lesser works often do and that "Two for the Road" hasn't made it to DVD. Those who enjoy good films should be given more opportunities to see it.
on October 25, 2000
Mark and Joanna Wallace meet while each is sailing to France, meet again while traveling, travel together, fall in love, and marry. Then the real work begins, with quarrels, unfaithfulness, a husband who loves his wife and daughter but frequently seems to love his work more, an obviously loving but equally stubborn wife, and, most important, love that brings them back together.
Audrey Hepburn is elegant, playful, passionate, willful, and loving in turn, while Albert Finney is excellent in his role as a man in love with his profession of architecture - sometimes so much that he doesn't pay sufficient attention to things right under his nose. William Daniel and Eleanor Bron are exceptional in their portrayal of Mark's girlfriend from his college days in America (I think that Eleanor Bron is English, but her northeastern American accent is perfect) and her husband, touring the European continent with Mark and Joanna after their marriage but before the birth of their
daughter. You also get a few minutes of a very young and, of course, very beautiful and sexy Jacqueline Bisset flirting with Albert Finney fairly early in the movie.
on November 6, 2000
Winnigly directed by DONEN,TWO FOR THE ROAD is full of beautiful vignettes and anecdotes that makes most couples everyday's life.The film shows what a film can do with a simple meaningful story ,and what a director can do if he is gifted and has a way with the visuals aspect of a motion picture.The casting of HEPBURN AND FINNEY works in a splendid way and is a perfect romantic pairing. Funny how the fashion of the time is well presented and has become nostalgic.I'm glad most reviewers liked that film.
on December 17, 2000
This film is absolutely wonderful! Although a bit on the depressing side, as the characters are cought in a marital rut. It also displays a lot of humor in the witty comments exchanged between the main characters, played by Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney. Unfortunately, it tells a lot of truth about marriage. "What kind of people just sit there and don't say a word to eachother", Finney's character asks. "Married people" Audrey answers.
on March 15, 2004
The past month I have been watching every Audrey Hepburn movie available on VHS... She has always been one of my favorite actresses, and 5 years ago I realized she was my all-time favorite: she has endeared herself to me in her most well-known films such as My fair Lady, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and Roman Holiday (all of which I love).
But I have also been viewing her lesser-known films, such as The Nun's Story (excellent), Children's Hour (excellent), and -- most recently -- "Two for the Road."
When I first rented the movie, I had =no= idea what to expect, so at first I was a bit surprised and let down that the relationship that Hepburn's character (Joanna Wallace) has with the leading male is not all sweet and sugary such as that in Roman Holiday. In fact, the relationship she has with Albert Finney's character (Mark Wallace) is "basically volatile" -- as Wallace's friend and ex-lover points out -- and is filled with "sniping" and mutual loathing--at least by the time they have been married for ten years.
However, by the time the film was over, I realized it was the most realistic movie about the vicissitudes of long-term relationships that I had ever watched and that I would be recommending this little-known film to all my friends, especially my married and divorced ones (i.e., I think one has to have been married and/or divorced to =really= appreciate the film, although other reviewers have pointed out that they were single when they first viewed it and that it made a lasting impression on them).
I myself was married 2 weeks shy of 14 years (in a very volatile relationship), and to me this film is "spot on" when it comes to portraying the different phases that many long-term relationships go through: the first months of almost absolute bliss; the early, pre-child years, when the arguments that occur only presage later, more serious ones; the years when a child only adds stress to a relationship already at a breaking point; the 6th-8th year when the couple can't stand each other; [the whole 7-year itch factor]; to the 10th-12th year when the couple still cannot stand each other, only pretend to be happily married, but stay together because "it is worth it sometimes," and because they discover they need each other. As Finney's character wryly remarks: If there is one thing I really despise is an "indispensible woman."
I give "Two for the Road" 4 out of 5 stars. The performance by Hepburn is extraordinary--given that she convincingly plays the same woman, Joanna Wallace, over a 12-year period, varying between a 20-something fresh youth who is "three-dimensional as it happens" -- Viewers of the film will recognize that quote -- to a thirty-something mother-with-child ("pregnant sow").
The film abounds with such wry remarks, excellent editing (making the film a bit tricky to follow, but which in turn adds to the pleasure of mulitple viewing).
Other reviewers have mentioned that the scenes cut between four different "road trips" that Mark and Joanna Wallace make, but in my count there are at least five:
(a) the one where they first meet and fall in love when hitchiking;
(b) the one where they are newlyweds travelling with friends of Mark (the American couple with a bratty daughter);
(c) the one where they are in the "old MG" (and eventually meet Maurice, Mark's soon-to-be all-consuming employer);
(d) the one where they are travelling together with their own daughter: on the road and in the hotel where the boiled egg doesn't arrive;
(e) the one where they are travelling without their daughter, en route to meet Maurice; the trip that starts and ends the movie;
Hepburn's acting was superb, while Finney's was passable at best. His character hardly changes in appearance over the 10-12 years, and his imitation of Humphrey Bogart is weak and therefore unnecessary. Michael Caine would have been a better lead. But he does deliver his lines well if somewhat too laconically.
Memorable quotes abound from this film, as in Breakfast at Tiffany's (which remains my fav of Hepburn films)...
----"We agreed before we got married we weren't going to have children," says Finney's character.
----"And before we were married, we didn't," slyly retorts Hepburns' character.
The dialogue is as catchy as the editing and the acting.
4 out 5: Even though I am a huge Audrey Hepburn fan, and even though the movie is one of her best... still it is probably not (yet) in my top fifty movies of all time...well, maybe #50. (There are an awful lot of movies out there!)
But I would still say that it is the most realistic film about relationships that I have seen, and certainly the most realistic film about relationships that Hepburn stars in. And "star in" she does in "Two for the Road": as in most her movies, her personality and--in this case-- her superb acting *make* the movie. She plays the gamut of absolute giddyness to the depths of grief in a very believeable and touching manner.
I plan to purchase the film for multiple viewings. And it is a definite "must see" and "must have" for Hepburn fans.