The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

April 6th, 2011 by Wayward Muse
Rating: Genres: Featured Actors: Actors: Anne Vernon, Ellen Farner, Harald Wolff, Marc Michel, Mirelle Perrey, Nino Castelnuovo Featured Directors: Languages:
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

Michel Legrand’s melody “I Will Wait for You” weaves throughout this deceptively simple “romantic” tale, adding a touch of irony that is more poignant for those raised on the English-language lyrics of this old standard. It’s not your typical Broadway or Hollywood musical, as it’s structured more like an opera—between the more obvious “songs,” where the characters reflect on their inner worlds and heightened emotions, all the dialog is sung in the style known as recitative in opera, a more speech-like singing that moves with the action. This might take a little getting used to for more mainstream modern audiences, but this wonderful film is worth every bit of the effort.

This is Catherine Deneuve’s breakout performance, and already at 20 years old she is as regal as a queen, which actually made the story that much more authentic to me—this is no little ditz hopelessly savaged by romance, but a young woman making thoughtful, sometimes painful choices for herself. The ending had me in tears, even though I thought it was perfect, and all was as it should be. The visuals and the music are delightful—overall a delicious, mostly pleasant treat with a surprisingly deep story.

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