Top positive review
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singing and dancing, and looking for love!
on 27 September 2016
Les Demoiselles de Rochefort gets off to a leisurely start, and it takes a while to get into it, but once it takes off its exuberance does take hold of the viewer and it becomes a camp delight. Rochefort looks freshly painted as the carnies arrive for the fair and set up on the main square, where the lovely Solange and Delphine teach music and dance respectively. Played by real-life sisters Francoise Dorleac and Catherine Deneuve, they sing and dance their way through a number of scenes with great charm, as do the two carnies, one of whom (George Chakiris) had starred in West Side Story ... At the same time, a story of missed chances, fate, and people meeting or not in a small town is woven into the fabric of the film with much subtlety, being both true to life and artificial. The painter Maxence, who has a superb number early on explaining the girl of his dreams to the assembled characters in a cafe on the square, is amazing as a naif finishing his military service. He has painted this figure who is the very image of Deneuve, but nobody tells him, either for perverse reasons of their own, or because they don't think of it. Meanwhile, the composer Andy Miller, played with his customary debonair ease by Gene Kelly, breezes into town and bumps into Solange to spark one of the most delightful 'love at first sight' moments in any film! Dorleac plays it to the hilt - really she could hardly be camper, as her Concerto in F sharp minor, third movement, falls onto the pavement with crayons and paper and he dashingly helps her to pick it all up, and their hands touch ... The film also stars Michel Piccoli and Danielle Darrieux in a not very convincing subplot, but it adds to the overall jigsaw so who cares? The music, by Michel Legrand, is very suitable, and there are some good tunes that become associated with one or other of the three romantic threads you hope will make the connection ... But the real guiding light behind the project is, of course, Jacques Demy, who pulls off one of his finest films here. The story and music blend beautifully with the colours and dance moves, in what is a priceless period piece. The extras, including a 64-minute documentary shot 25 years later by Agnes Varda, are well worth having, as is the wonderful booklet.