Saturday, November 22, 2008

Le Plaisir (1952) Film Review - Max Ophuls

Watched this one Friday afternoon.

Plot Summary - French-language film, directed by Max Ophuls - three short tales of pleasure, set in 19th century France. The first, the story of a ball where all of Paris from Can-Can girl to Baron have come for an evening of fun and debauchery. A strange, large-nosed, small mustached dandy arrives, pursues women, and dances up a storm - until he faints on the dance floor. POSSIBLE SPOILER : ends up he's an elderly man, doped up on absinthe and wearing a mask to disguise his old face; he's taken home where his wife relates the story of his lost youth. END SPOILER. Second - the story of a popular brothel in Normandy, the Madame and her "girls" one day off on an adventure in the country to attend a first communion, and the sad men in town who find the house "closed" and are left alone and lonely on a Saturday night (wives aren't enough, apparently). Third - the story of a painter, his love for a beautiful model, and his loss of lust for her after a very short time.

Review - Nothing complex here, these are simple tales brought visually to life via interesting camerawork and sets, outdoor locations, lush costumes, and descriptive voice-over narration done in a fairy tale/storyteller-like fashion. It's almost like the extraordinary happening in the ordinary world (or should that be the other way?!), the film is unusual, sort of dream-like almost - it kind of sticks with you. It includes lots of moving shots through windows and groups of people. I enjoyed the first of these three stories the best - it was odd, short, and interesting with it's lively party atmosphere and most odd masked man. The second story was a bit too long, though visually appealing. This DVD was from the Criterion Collection, the black and white print looked pretty nice. Rating - 8/10 stars

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