Tuesday, 12 January 2016

I've Just Seen: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (The Young Girls of Rochefort) (1967)

Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (The Young Girls of Rochefort) (1967)

I want one of those hats!

Director: Jacques Demy

This is the second Demy I have seen. The other, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, is a lovely melancholic musical, which has all the dialogue sung to music, but without any lyrical flourishes. The Young Girls of Rochefort is a much more traditional musical in the American style; we even musical interludes as well as dancing scenes which characters use to explain who they are. We also have a rather gorgeous Gene Kelly doing what he does best on the pristine streets of Rochefort.

I can imagine that for some this film does nothing but irritate; as for myself I loved it. I like musicals anyway, and listening to French being sung to snazzy tunes is something I didnt' know was missing from my life. The only 'downside' to the film is that it uses so many coincidences in its plot: Catherine Deneuve's ideal man happens to draw a picture of her without having seen her, Francoise Dorleac falls in love with Gene Kelly without finding out that he is the man she is meant to be meeting. It is the type of plot that could be cleared up if people only shared more information with each other, like their names.

But really, you don't watch this for the plot. You watch for the unadulterated joy that shines from the screen throughout. The songs are catchy even if you don't speak French, the dancing is great, Gene Kelly's French is convincing (when he talks, the singing is dubbed). and the costumes are all from the pastel end of the colour spectrum, adding a lovely confectionary quality to the whole thing, There is no depth to anything, but that is entirely intentional, and it is all so very charming that I couldn't help but enjoy it. Deneuve and Dorleac, who are actually sisters, are great together, performing everything with matching costumes and energy levels. I was sad to read that Dorleac was killed in a car accident not long after the film was released. From seeing this film, it was a great loss for us.


  1. I genuinely prefer The Umbrellas of Cherbourg to this one. This one really is about the spectacle and I like it for that, just not as much.

    1. I agree this is certainly more superficial; Umbrellas is more satisfying in the way a good meal is. The Young Girls of Rochefort is more like confectionary, and the day I watched it I wanted something light and bubbly.