Le Plaisir Screen 4 articles

Le Plaisir

1952

Le Plaisir Poster
  • On the whole, the film falls below the level of the work that surrounds it, La Ronde and The Earrings of Madame de . . . , but it unmistakably belongs to Ophuls's postwar period, one of the most extraordinary creative peaks in film history.

  • Ophüls ennobles the material; those interested in pleasure should watch for the old man’s blank mask peeled off as his evening ends; the lighthouse flickering in darkness as lonely townspeople gather on the shore; one woman’s hat; another man’s cart; and the stairs shakily mounted by a would-be suicide.

  • Le Plaisir illustrates not merely Ophüls's unparalleled sense of flow and texture, but also his proto-feminism... In a society built on the oppression of a gender, where pleasure is not only ephemeral but one-sided, Ophüls says, female assertion can only erupt through such dreadful acts of revolt. "Life is movement," but, as the narrator can only conclude, "Happiness is no lark."

  • The second story, about a group of prostitutes who take one day off to attend a communion in the country, is a fantasy based on world-weariness (as unlikely as that sounds), where the pleasure in question is a brief vacation from vice, a minor exercise in virtue made magical by the characters' recognition of how rare it is in their lives; but to label this scene "bittersweet" is to deny the remarkable level of self-awareness in the women, who are among the most wonderful in Ophüls' body of work.

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