Saturday, November 12, 2011

Paris in Middle Age

There were two films I watched earlier this year, both of which will stay with me a long time, both love stories. Non-romantics can stop reading now.

Goodbye Again (1961) is based on a Francoise Sagan novel, Aimez-vous Brahms? Ingrid Bergman plays 40-year-old Paris-based interior designer, Paula, in love with Roger (Yves Montand at his most insouciant French), and pursued by the 24-year-old Philip, an American played by Anthony Perkins. Age, of course, plays its own role. I'd only seen Perkins in Psycho up to now and was just plain frightened of him. That chillingly iconic portrayal is now obliterated in the light of his handsomeness and charm. He had a very good career, but I think, if hadn't been for Psycho, it might have been better. I won't say anything about the end, except that... I didn't like it. In my mind and heart, I've rewritten it. Look for a cameo by Peter Bull, and - apparently - uncredited appearances by Jean-Pierre Cassel and Sacha Distel. The stunning black and white cinematography by Amand Thirard, especially the rain-slicked streets of the opening credits, only adds to the stylish early 60s Frenchness and aching romance of the film, aided by use of the third movement from Brahms Symphony No. 3 for the soundtrack.

Une Liason Pornographique (1999) is not at all pornographic. It stars Nathalie Baye and Sergí Lopez as two people in Paris who meet online and come together for a purely physical relationship. Their first visit to a hotel is not filmed; that's not the point of the movie. After the physical, what is left is who they are and how they are drawn, despite their initial agreement, to know more about the other. As you can imagine, and why else would you make a film otherwise? - things get a wee bit complicated.

At the time of filming, Baye was 51 and Lopez was 34, and age is never mentioned; it's just not an issue. Surprising and refreshing.

Two films made in two very different years get two thumbs and - what the hell, I'm trying to make a point here - two big toes up!


Tess Kincaid said...

I'm adding these to my Netflix queue...

Blog Princess G said...

I'd love to know what you think, Tess.