The Woman Who Dared Screen 8 articles

The Woman Who Dared

1944

The Woman Who Dared Poster
  • Both [Remorques and Le ciel est à vous] and are undoubtedly third-estate romances, and short on character development; one can hear the cheering for the righteous protagonists as well as the jeering for the cheaters they encounter. But as hyper-real portraits of unsung underlings they're peerless, and a refreshing flipside to the pity parties held for migrant and factory workers in Depression-era narratives from the United States.

  • An “aviatrix film” with a rich set of characters and an utterly convincing ‘realism’ of human interactions.

  • Scene by scene, Grémillon builds a suggestive and ambiguous interior life for all of his characters, including the couple’s daughter, whose own musical dreams are neglected as her mother determines to beat an airplane distance record, and he takes pains to portray a believable family with relationships that ebb and flow realistically. Toward the end of the movie, however, Spaak’s screenplay veers into conventional uplift while the visuals suggest a more complex point of view.

  • Le ciel est à vous reverses the usual progression of desperation propelling ambition. Instead it's the ambition that causes problems, playing havoc with the business and so obsessing the parents that they sell their talented daughter's piano. The couple's devotion to each other is stronger than to their children, and that's an unusual message for a family film in any era.

  • The film can be seen as a somewhat contradictory multipurpose object that allowed different viewers in 1944 to find what they were looking for. That doesn’t mean it’s a work without integrity or purpose; subtleties and ambiguities in the characters, performances, and plot make it only superficially superficial. Its extreme populism may look hokey at first, yet the shadings and ambiguities transform it into something complex without ever being condescending or patronizing.

  • There’s a vivid, almost neorealist approach here that differs from that of the more studio-bound titles typical of the period, and a lack of flourish in the acting and cinematography. The film’s integrity emanates from its sunny humanism as much as from its buoyant allegory, as it pays patient attention to the feeling and flow of working life.

  • In Grémillon’s superb handling it is first and foremost a magnificent love story, in which a shared (and quite dangerous) obsession inspires Thérèse and Pierre to ever greater heights of dedication to each other.

  • Grémillon’s most uplifting and warm-hearted film, it is nonetheless a clear-eyed, unsparing examination of the costs, as well as rewards, of single-minded drive and determination. It is also an extraordinary portrait of marriage as a partnership of equals working together, and most remarkable of all, the film takes its feminist stance for granted.

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