Les Demoiselles de Rochefort – The Young Girls of Rochefort

One of the many, many, many films I saw while sick for a week was Les Demoiselles de Rochefort, AKA The Young Girls of Rochefort, a highly colorful French musical choreographed by Gene Kelly and starring Catherine Deneuve and her sister Françoise Dorléac, who play fraternal twins trying to find love and a ride to Paris over the course of two days in a small seaside French tourist town. 

For me, watching the movie the first time was fun, but a little arduous.  The songs never stopped, allowing only one or two lines of dialogue to separate one song and dance number from the next.  And though filmed in an actual city square and other on-location sites, it felt a bit like a stage play, with lots and lots of lighthearted dancing and singing in one general spot, and all the characters color-coordinated in bright pastel colored shirts and dresses. 

But it was an investment well made, since after the movie was over, I actually found myself turning it back on and watching it over again!  The songs are so fast-paced and jazzy that you don’t realize how catchy they are until you find them burrowing giant wormholes in your brain later.  It’s a “light-hearted romp” for sure, not a Cabaret or West Side Story, but you find yourself longing to be there, to be a part of the spectacle and the fun.

And let’s not forget that the performances by Deneuve and her sister will hypnotize the shit out of you.  This one here was stuck in my brain for an hour last night as I tried to sleep:

P.S. Kudos to my gal-pal for finding this on DirecTV!  And kudos to Michel Legrand for composing the songs!

UPDATE: I found a fascinating review on Salon, written ten years ago, when this thing was remastered/revamped/re-released on DVD.  The author is Stephanie Zacharek, and she points out far better than I did (but hey, I was sick!) how balls-out amazing the color is, as well as Gene Kelly’s performance at the age of, gulp, 55!  I don’t look that good now, at half his age.

orangehairboy

Oklahoman by birth. Angeleno by fate. I've been in half a dozen bands and own 25 cubic feet of old records. Thank God for Ikea shelves.

One thought on “Les Demoiselles de Rochefort – The Young Girls of Rochefort

  1. See, I warned you that this movie wasn’t particularly substantive, but it is a pleasant little technicolor fantasy world to fall into, isn’t it?

    It’s a shame that Francoise Dorleac died so young, just a month after this finished filming at age 25. She was lovely and already had Truffaut and Polanski films under her belt. It’s too bad.

    On a side note, apparently Demy also considered two other actresses for the role of the sisters: Brigitte Bardot and Geraldine Chaplin (your favorite gal from Nashville, not to mention, Charlie Chaplin’s daughter!)

    Like

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