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Lola (1961)
Topic Started: Aug 12 2017, 11:50 AM (139 Views)
Laughing Gravy
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Lola (1961) Written & Directed by Jacques Demy
88 min. / B&W / 2.35:1 / French, with English subtitles
On Blu-ray and DVD from Criterion

In Nantes, a seaside city in France, several people suffer from lost love or love never found, and they just keep bumping into each other. Unfortunately, the One True Love they've never gotten over never seems to be with the one who loves THEM.

-Roland is a bored loser, who can't keep a job and who dreams about Cécile, the One that Got Away.
-Lola used to be Cécile, and now she's a cabaret singer raising a young son and waiting for Michel, the man who impregnated her and then left her, to return
-Frankie is the American sailor who loves Lola, who puts up with him because he reminds her of Michel
-Cécile is a teenage girl with a mad crush on Frankie, mirroring Lola's teenage years.
-And then there's Cécile the Younger's Mom, the ladies in the café, and Michel himself, who looms over all this.

Most of these folks have just arrived, are planning on leaving, or both. Have I mentioned this is one of the most bittersweet, haunting pictures I've seen in aeons? Everyone is missing something or someone, and not necessarily wistfully - they all know what they don't have, which makes it all the sadder. Leave it to Lola to try and keep a positive spin on things, though, both through a song about how awesome she is (which she sings and dances to rather badly) and her declaration of what a great mom she is as she leaves her son alone at various locales and times to live her own life, to several short speeches on how great life is.

Million-dollar Dialog:
Roland, returning from a Gary Cooper picture: "It's always beautiful in the movies."
Lola: "So is life."

Lola: "Isn't life a beautiful thing?"
Roland: "In theory, but what we do with it isn't always great."

And the film summed up nicely:

Roland: "It's not your fault or mine. It's just how it is. We are alone, and we stay alone. But what counts is to want something, no matter what it takes. There's a bit of happiness in simply wanting happiness."

Gorgeous cinematography that captures a beautiful city, and a lovely film restoration (the original elements were lost in a fire) in an unheralded but wonderful movie. Demy called it "a musical without music" and it clearly leads up to The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, a much more beloved film, but I liked this one just as much. Anouk Aimée is unforgettable as Lola, not quite so beautiful or talented as to make her movie star-y, and Marc Michel hits all the right notes as Roland. Lots of sailors speaking English with "American accents" that will make you laugh out loud.

A charming, charming film and I'll be rewatching it soon.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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