Well dressed but dull, Madame de... (1953) is a disappointingly frivolous and uninvolving film by Max Ophüls, whose Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948) is a masterpiece. This film opens with a title telling us that the heroine, Louise (Danielle Darrieux), wouldn't have had any problems in life if not for a certain pair of earrings, though maybe she'd be more interesting if she had. The wife of a French general, she falls in love with a bland Italian diplomat, Fabrizio (Vittorio De Sica), which leads to a montage sequence showing the two of them waltzing together at a succession of society balls while staring dreamily into each other's eyes. In contrast with the convoluted journey taken by the aforementioned earrings, which Louise decides to sell in the opening scene, the emotional dynamic between the three leads couldn't be less complicated. As a rule, Ophüls' post-war French movies are lighter in tone than his post-war American films, and his leading ladies--Darrieux in this film; Martine Carol in the much better Lola Montès (1955)--are rather lifeless compared to Joan Fontaine in Letter From an Unknown Woman and Joan Bennett in The Reckless Moment (1949), so while I won't say whether Madame de... ends happily or tragically, I can tell you that I didn't much care either way.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Posted by Michael Sooriyakumaran at 9:18 AM