Monday, June 12, 2006

Bay of Angels

1963, France, directed by Jacques Demy (original title: La Baie des anges)

Rating: ***

A light concoction whipped up in a couple of days and shot rapidly by Jacques Demy while he dealt with a production delay, La Baie des anges has little of the insight of either his previous Lola or his subsequent, glorious Les Parapluies de Cherbourg. That's not to say the film is without its pleasures: there's nothing wrong, after all, with 80 minutes in the company of Jeanne Moreau, although her character's girlish affectations are occasionally tiresome. She plays a compulsive gambler who links up with the youthful Claude Mann for a spree on the Riviera, in which vast-sounding sums are won and lost; I suspect that the amounts are given in old francs, about as meaningful as being an Italian millionaire in the days of the lira. The film attempts, with some success, to mirror the highs and lows of the gambler's life, although the transformation of the coquettish Moreau into an unpleasantly grabbing gambler each time she passes a roulette table (the effect is quite extraordinary) hardly makes the lifestyle appealing. Mann, for his part, is oddly emotionless, especially given that he's in the company of such a stunning woman; the final shot is quite unconvincing as a consequence, and no match for the wonderful seafront opening, with Michel Legrand's music in full over-the-top flight.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States