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.
on December 15, 2003
Well first i should say that Two For the Road is practically my life and my partner's life story. However, four years before I was married I had first seen the film.....little was i to know.
Now thirty-three years later, more happily married than ever, I look at this film as a timeless, classic work that survives while so many others have failed.
The writing is superb in its wit and poignancy - a poignancy that was applicable then and is as pertinent now.
Lines like, Finny pointing to the obnoxious child, "Do you Still want a Child.." And Hepburn replies, "Yes! just not THAT child.." The statement speaks volumes for those deciding on children or not....it exemplfies how individual that decision is.
Finny is as funny as hell as a typical male and Hepburn is sweetness personified in her portrayal.
They grow old together, in sickness and in health, good times and bad, joy and happiness and pain and sorrow. They live in a world of reality where life is a roller coaster and no one is perfect. They make it through the times of deceipt and betrayal by knowing the greater part of their marriage is positive and rewarding.
The film is brilliantly photographed, the score is uncomplicated and lovely. Sub plots like the erosion of the environment because of over-building and the superficial needs and crutches of the overly monied add to support the central them of compromises and misfortunes even in the best of worlds and relationships.
Rent it -- Oh and for god's sake will someone please get this on DVD -- and see a big dose of healthy truth wrapped in glorious scenery, incredible fashions and wonderful performances.
God i LOVE this movie.
on June 28, 2002
"Two For the Road" is a lovely, seriocomic movie about the ups and downs of a long relationship between Joanna (played by Audrey Hepburn) and Mark (played by Albert Finney). Joanna and Mark first cross paths as students traveling across Europe. They wind up hitchhiking together and eventually falling in love.
The story is told through flashbacks. We follow the couple from their early carefree infatuation through marriage, parenthood, boredom, infidelity, and finally renewal of their relationship.
Along the way, there are some memorable vignettes involving Joanna and Mark vacationing with another couple Howard and Cathy Manchester (amusingly played by William Daniels and Eleanor Bron) and their daughter Ruthie Manchester. Howard and Cathy must be the most wittily neurotic twosome in movies and their daughter Ruthie is probably the most obnoxious child in movie history.
The performances are uniformly excellent. The direction by Stanley Donen is stylish and sophisticated. Frederic Raphael's screenplay is alternately romantic and cynical. And Henry Mancini's exquisitely beautiful score is one of this fine composer's very best. "Two For the Road" is an enormous pleasure.
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 those involved in making it. Audrey Hepburn made a number of good films, but this film and "Roman Holiday" (her first) are my favorites. Likewise I especially enjoy Albert Finney's work here and in "Tom Jones" (early is his career). Stanley Donen's work as the director of "Singing in the Rain" made it one of the best musicals ever, and his work here made "Two for the Road" a unique dramatic comedy.
Some say this film is mainly a Vogue fashion show. While I feel that is true of the overrated "Funny Face", Audrey's clothing here helps tell the story. Some say the film is hard to follow, but if you pay attention to the vehicles the main characters are traveling in, the clothes they 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 August 21, 2000
What seems so clichéd now was quite ahead of its time back in 1966. The surreal opening sequence, featuring animated traffic signs floating past the screen whilst credits fade in and out, sets the mood perfectly - complete with a beautiful Mancini theme - for a film that is somewhere North of Comedy, but just a bit South from Drama. It's correct to assume that very little has ever depicted a relationship so true to life.
The bitter beginning shows the distance between the seemingly unhappily married couple of Joanna (Audrey Hepburn) and Mark (Albert Finney) Wallace. It is nothing short of fitting.
From that point on the movie jumps from point-to-point on the time line of their relationship. The fun and fancy-free aura of their early years to the bitter and cold homestretch, ... .
"Two For The Road" is certainly a far cry from anything audiences had seen prior to that and is certainly something film makers try to reproduce frequently - with far less success. The film is a classic in its own right and something all movie lovers should witness. The pain-stakingly real performance of Audrey Hepburn was no surprise and it's also no wonder why she remains one of Hollywood's favorite leading ladies. Albert Finney's portrayal of a loving man with a cold façade only compliments his opposite's performance (ironically enough, it is most evident when they clash). It's clear that this movie makes you fall in love it it just as many times as the characters do, but you can only walk away from it with a smile on your face for the seconds, with the couple uttering their pet names for each other that are just as obscene as they are romantic and driving off into the horizon, you see that even in it's darkest hours, life is beautiful. It's hard to get that from an ordinary movie, to say the very least.
on July 2, 2000
"TWO FOR THE ROAD" is a very good movie about what happens when the fairy tale ends and the couple "lives happily ever after." The film consists of four vignettes, in- and out-of- sequence, about a stylish, economically-upwardly-mobile British couple on four different road trips on the same road through France at different stages of their relationship. The first, in their real time, is a trip as youths when they meet and fall in love. The second is as struggling newlyweds. The third is after both have had affairs. In the fourth, they have achieved financial success, but the decay in their marriage has led to a downward spiral of emotions. Instead of appearing in chronological sequence, the four vignettes are edited/spliced together, jumping from trip to trip, for contrast and to show coordinated alignment of thoughts, actions and revelations. There's beautiful rural French scenery, a lovely Henry Mancini score, brilliant dialogue, and some of the greatest 60's mod fashions ever seen on film. In one particularly pivotal scene, Audrey Hepburn storms off from the car wearing a black shiny-vinyl mod pantsuit. Walking alongside a lake, she delivers the most clarifying line in the film, "you don't give me 'everything I want'; you give me everything YOU WANT TO GIVE ME! " This line speaks volumes for all couples everywhere who have been tortured by the miscommunications, mistreatments, and misperceptions involved with trying to love another. Odd that a line that hits the nail on the head, so poignantly and seriously, comes from Audrey's character when looking like Joanne Worley on an episode of "Laugh-In" a few years later. Another laughable sequence is the one with the couple's friends' spoiled daughter. Apparently, the parents do not want to warp the child's psyche, so they allow her to run amok, claiming Audrey should "woo" her. Later, when the child throws the car keys away, won't divulge their location, and hours are spent searching a field for them, Audrey's character, Joanna, loses her patience and gets in the girl's face, privately screaming, "tell your mother where the keys are, RIGHT NOW! " Immediately, the child gives them back. When the mother asks Joanna how she got the results, Audrey replies, "I wooed her!" and walks away. Thank goodness the UNICEF people never got a look at that scene (smile). The best part of this movie is its' honest and objective look at love and life. It's not the glossed-over fantasy in which we prefer to see our screen idols, but, that's what makes the few cleverly objective, yet fun, movies, like this one, shine through.
on August 21, 1999
This is one of those movies that really grows on you as it progresses. At first, I found the interactions between Mark and Joanne very stilted and superficial (the whole passport gag got so overdone it was ridiculous). But as we got to know each character better, I began to identify with characteristics in each one. By the end of the movie, even my boyfriend was watching with rapt attention. As the credits rolled, he turned to me and said, "That's you and me!"
And it's true because it's a timeless story with a timeless theme. People change, and to be able to change in step with another person is a hard thing. Two for the Road is a very frustrating movie to watch because you end up identifying with one character but seeing the other character's point, thus realizing that you actually understand your spouse/significant other's point of view when you don't really want to. Bravo Mr. Donen for such an enduring film. Bravo Ms. Hepburn and Mr. Finney for showing us ourselves.
on June 22, 1999
A movie that states that often personal happyness of each individual in a relationship needs to be suborned to the interest of the relationship, that adultery is wrong, and were neither partner is all evil nor an innocent a victim. Also a movie that treats the viewer as an intelligent adult, capable of putting together the pieces of a mosaic, and not child to which the movie is merely a very long ad for the vidio game. You might think could not be made You would be wrong. Given the time in which was made, the late sixtys the theme is down right subverslve. Unfortunately swiming against the tide, in this case did not lead to commercial success. In all other ways is a masterpiece. The script is wonderful, the acting incredible, and direction is intellgent, an a hunting score. Even the fad of moment type american characters sever to add a bit of light humor to the movie, and are the perfect foil for Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finny. Both of whom should have be nomintated of oscars.
Note: stanly donen pictures did not pay for this review
on April 3, 2004
A funny, subtle, bittersweet and skillfully constructed look at one couple's courtship and sometimes-rocky marriage, as seen in a series of interwoven narratives, all during trips through France in the 1950s and '60s. Albert Finney and Audrey Hepburn portray the Wallaces, he an irascible, prickly young architect, she, his indefatigably cheery, clear-eyed wife. The dizzying, back-and-forth cross-chronological editing can be a bit disorienting, but the script is incredibly skillful, and the tart dialogue takes on an aching, painful resonance. Plus, Hepburn is such a doll. Great clothes, great old cars and outlandishly modern architecture and interior design -- a great glimpse into the Euro-American middle class of the late 'Fifties and early 'Sixties, when the world was their oyster, and love was in the air.
on August 1, 2000
While Audrey Hepburn gets almost the credit she deserves, Albert Finney and directory Stanely Donen are virtualy ignored by today's public. This movie is an excellent representation of their talents. Donen's movies are very well remember (think "Funny Face" or Fred Astaire dancing on the ceiling in "Royal Wedding" or Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn in the chase scene from "Charade") but his best movie, "Two for the Road" was very much ahead of it's time. This is not your typical Hepburn movie- it's not light or comedic ("Sabrina" "Roman Holiday" "Funny Face") nor is it very dramatic ("Wait Until Dark" "The Nun's Story"), but a great balance of both. Witty and charming. One of my favorite movies of all time.