Wednesday, August 10, 2022

French Film Mercredi: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

Les Parapluies de Cherbourg is Jacques Demy's candy-coated love story released in 1964 but set in the late 1950s, about Geneviève and Guy, two lovers on the cusp of their adult lives. Geneviève works in her mother's umbrella shop (the 'parapluies' of the title) and Guy works in an auto shop; they are young and beautiful and in love, and anything seems possible.

Anything, until Guy is called up to do his military service in Algeria. Geneviève finds out she's pregnant, and choices have to be made, about herself and her future.

The movie is told entirely in song. Catherine Deneuve as Geneviève and Nino Castlenuovo as Guy are delightful and romantic and adorable. The movie is a bittersweet delight throughout, right to the teary ending telling of the emptiness of daydreams and the rewards of real love. 

When I first saw this movie as a teenager I thought it was inexpressably sad but it's one of those movies that ages with you and I see more depth in it now, even if that depth isn't much more than that of an after-dinner mint. Slight, sweet and wonderful, Les Parapluies de Cherbourg is a classic to be savored again and again.

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