Jacques Demy

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The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg Review


Essential
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg stunned audiences at the Cannes Film Festival in 1964, landing the prestigious Palme d'Or. What the audience responded to was a triple whammy of film innovation that's just as powerful today as it was then: An explosion of color on film in league with the best of the Technicolor musicals, an entirely-sung script that's anchored by Michel Legrand's heart-busting theme, but most of all the breakout performance of Catherine Deneuve. She'd show off her range as an actress most powerfully three years later in Belle De Jour. But here's where she - along with the film musical itself - is the most gorgeous and captivating.

Deneuve is Genevieve, who somewhat sullenly assists her widowed mother (Anne Vernon) in running an umbrella shop in Cherbourg, a provincial town of cobblestone streets. Just 17 years old (though Deneuve was 20 when she took the role), she falls impetuously and deeply in love with Guy (Nino Castelnuovo), a charming garage mechanic. His head cocks sweetly when he sings to her, and part of the magic of the film is in watching the two stand thisclose to one another and moon as they sing.

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