Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) – Review

A bait and switch works best when it’s delightfully surprising to discover; a moment of elevation, “oh, I did not expect that”; it doesn’t work if, while still technically unexpected, the plot switched to is less interesting than the film’s original state. It’s probably because Genevieve (the lead female) brings an indescribable amount of sweet, sugary colour to the world; once she leaves, the world becomes drab; she’s all that stops Cherbourg from seeming depressing: Cherbourg becomes the reality when the fantasy, Genevieve, leaves. I suppose it’s right to feel disengaged when she leaves, I can sympathise more with Guy (the lead male). Even so, the singing becomes irritating after awhile, especially post-Genevieve. Everything is set in this small town of Cherbourg, the camera never leaves, so the feeling claustrophobia sets in deep, and deeper as their world changes, so as the music gets sombre and their energy fades the scope of the film narrows around Guys words, and since he’s orphanly depressed the music begins to grate with every lyric, the name of music is tainted with every overly melancholy verse of Guy’s. You can argue these things as a positive to the film, or a negative; it’s a personal thing, I wasn’t of a fan of these decisions. But, overall, I admire the courageous concept and their execution of it.

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