Top 100 Films #58 – The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)

 

uc-2#58. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)
Directed by: Jacques Demy
Written by: Jacques Demy
Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Nino Castelnuovo

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Les Parapluies de Cherbourg) is Jacques Demy’s beautiful and bittersweet musical masterpiece.  The film sees a young woman named Geneviève (Catherine Deneuve) who falls in love with a handsome young auto mechanic named Guy (Nino Castelnuovo).  Guy is eventually drafted into the Algerian War, and Geneviève is left at home with little to no contact to her love.  She soon finds out that she is pregnant with Guy’s child, and after several failed attempts to contact Guy ends up marrying another man.  When Guy returns home, he learns that Geneviève has moved on, and also begins to move on with his own life.  Jacques Demy’s film is deeply romantic and tragic in a very relatable way, even if it is melodramatic in its best moments.  Every moment of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is well-intentioned and sweet, telling a very basic, but endearing love story that spans several years.  The songs featured throughout are beautiful and moving, and the film’s choreography and Demy’s attention to detail makes them all the more memorable.  Demy and cinematographer Jean Rabier shot the film with a focus on gorgeous, vibrant colors that are one of my absolute favorite parts of the film.  The Umbrellas of Cherbourg looks and feels like a vivid, colorful dream – one I never wanted to leave.  The performance of Catherine Deneuve as Geneviève is another of the film’s strongest points, delivering a sweet, playful, and deeply emotional role.  Without Deneuve’s dedication to the performance, the love story between Guy and Geneviève would not have been nearly as compelling.  The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is a beautiful, playful, and deeply moving picture that should be seen by all lovers of musical films, if only for its songs and its sickly sweet sense of romance.

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