Jacques DemyFrance90 minutes1964ColourFrench
Art-designed from stem to stern and awash in Michel Legrand's stirring, melodic score, Demy's all-sung musical is exuberant, enchanting, and unbearably poignant, but also dark, modern, death-haunted, and acute about both family and class relations. Catherine Deneuve plays the yearning Geneviève, who falls in love with handsome auto mechanic Guy (Nino Castelnuovo) to the despair of her ambitious, widowed mother (Anne Vernon). When Guy is drafted for service in the Algerian War (one of the film's many astute political points), the film turns into a rhapsody of absence, longing, and loss. "A masterpiece … [Demy's] poetic exaltation of the ordinary, bursting with emotion, [has] its share of dark irony[:] For all the apparent sugar and spice of Legrand's memorable score[,] Demy's social observation in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg couldn't be more clear-eyed." (Jonathan Rosenbaum).