THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG

Director Jacques Demy sought to make a movie that would make audiences cry. He succeeded in spades. It helps that Michelle Legrande provided one of the most indelible film scores of all time, and cinematographer Jean Rabier found the sourness in candy-coated Eastmancolor. Catherine Deneuve is radiant as the 16-year-old Geneviève, who falls for Guy (Nino Castelnuovo), a mechanic with humble aspirations. Geneviève sells umbrellas at her mother’s shop, and everything looks like an old Hollywood movie. And no one talks, they sing. They sing every single line in the film no matter how banal. It’s ecstatic and frivolous, but war intervenes, and beauty that was once taken for granted is now sorely missed. Exaltation turns to elegy, and life goes on. It has one of the best endings in all of cinema—if it doesn’t break your heart, nothing will. Streaming on The Criterion Channel, HBO Max, and Kanopy.

A version of the above review first appeared in the pages of Boulder Weekly Vol. 27, No. 40, “Home Viewing: Palme d’Or Winners.”