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The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg Review

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Beautiful Genevive (Deneuve), daughter of the proprietress of the eponymous brolly shop, and Guy (Castelnuovo), a garage mechanic just drafted to fight in Algeria pledge their love before he goes, but she doesn't say she's pregnant. While he's away, she enters into a marriage of convenience with a jeweller, prompting Guy, on his return, to hook up with the dutiful girl who attended his dying mother,

★★★★★

Few films are more downright French than Jacques Demy's 1964 hit, famous for its thorough appropriation and reinvention of the Hollywood musical genre. Every line of dialogue from "Oh shit" to "I'm pregnant" is sung to Michel Legrand's luxurious orchestration and set in a ravishing world which is at once artificial and realistic (Demy applied dayglo paint to real locations to give them that MGM look). And it manages to combine, with a peculiarly Gallic shrug, wistful romance with resigned cynicism.In the late 1950s Cherbourg (the rainiest town in France), the beautiful Genevive (Deneuve), daughter of the proprietress of the eponymous brolly shop, loves Guy (Castelnuovo), a garage mechanic just drafted to fight in Algeria. They pledge their eternal love to the tune that was an international hit as If It Takes Forever, I Will Wait For You, but she doesn't say she's pregnant. While he's away, she enters into a marriage of convenience with a jeweller, prompting Guy, on his return, to hook up with the dutiful girl who attended his dying mother, and open an Esso garage with his inheritance.The story is deliberately slight but the style is ultimately overwhelming. Legrand's score cannily limits its range so the tunes probably could be carried by shopgirls and garage mechanics (all the voices are pleasant rather than showstopping), and even the deepest emotion is underplayed. It's hard to decide whether the film is about grand passion or the pragmatic need to settle down, but the spirited leads convey the depths of operatic emotion under the hum-along singspiel.

Catherine Deneuve won the Best Actress prize at Cannes, but the vocal performances of the entire ensemble are impeccable. Pure cinematic magic.