Voted The Guardian's 14 Best Romantic Film of All Time.
Described by director Jacques Demy as 'a film in song', the visually intoxicating The Umbrellas of Cherbourg Pays homage to the Hollywood musical in this masterpiece of French New Wave cinema.
Guy Foucher (Nino Castelnuovo), a 20-year-old French auto mechanic, has fallen in love with 17-year-old Geneviève Emery (Catherine Deneuve: Belle de Jour), an employee in her widowed mother's chic but financially embattled umbrella shop. On the evening before Guy is to leave for a two-year tour of combat in Algeria, the pair share a passionate night. Geneviève becomes pregnant and then must choose between waiting for Guy's return or accepting an attractive offer of marriage from a wealthy diamond merchant (Marc Michel: Lola).
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This is a great film for those who are nostalgic for simpler times and for fans of romance (albeit slightly bittersweet romance.) First of all, there is not one spoken word in the whole film - everything is sung. This almost put me off buying it at first but I was pleasantly surprised at how well it works (due in no small part to the fact that the music was written by the great Michel Legrand.) In fact two of the things that mark this movie out as a classic are the music and the colourful visuals. Although most of the shots are of interiors, the colours used are very vibrant - there are some amazing wallpapers and painted doors etc - not hyper-realistic perhaps but representing a charming and idealised vision of a French town in the mid 20th century. Excellent as the visuals and music are, much of the films charm rests on the ever beautiful Catherine Deneuve - so adorable and vulnerable here, faced with a bittersweet choice between love and pragmatism - as radiant as she has ever been. I keep using the word 'charm' and in a nutshell that sums up this gorgeous blu-ray movie - charming.
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