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The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

Director:Jacques Demy
Release Date:1959

By Bret McCabe | Posted 12/5/2007

Magic is sprinkled all over this 1964 explosion of romantic, colorful artifice: Director Jacques Demy at his most bittersweet, music-Demy's entire dialogue is sung-from Michel Legrand, Bernard Evein's spotless production design, which appears to pull its every color from a flavor of ice cream or confectioner's shop, a then-20-year-old Catherine Deneuve its young star, and a French title so musical even Nabokov would marvel at its built in nostalgia: Les Parapluies de Cherboug. A teenage girl (Deneuve) is in love with a garage mechanic (Nino Casetelnuovo) bound for conscription and Algiers-this is 1959 France-sets up the movie's main rift. She ends up single and pregnant and headed toward a loveless if stabilizing marriage, he's gonna come home and find his one and only has left him behind. If it sounds contrived and silly, it is, but just as the can-can is nothing but women kicking in their bloomers and crème brûlée little more than burnt custard, something about Cherbourg being indubitably French pushes it beyond adorable into something approaching the sublime. Everything about Demy's production is aware of the movie's movieness, but that it never winks at it means its sugar coating never really cracks.

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