The Young Girls of Rochefort Screen 15 articles

The Young Girls of Rochefort

1967

The Young Girls of Rochefort Poster
  • The movie is less graceful than Lola and less lyrical than The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, but it is curiously charming just the same. Demy has not really revitalized the musical form. He has merely taken from the musical those liberties and contrivances that serve his own poetic sensibility. In his Odyssey from Nantes (Lola), to Cherbourg (Umbrellas), to Rochefort (Girls), Demy comes ever closer to the glossy sophistication of Paris.

  • The end of Les demoiselles de Rochefort. Stupid, devastated, definitive emotion. An emtion all the stronger that everything that I've always thought - and written - about Demy is still true. A hard film-maker, not at all sentimental, morbid and joyful.

  • Today's political tensions, perhaps because they don't run in a single gigantic rift like the war in Vietnam, seem to pose little threat to entertainment, least of all to the brilliant buoyancy of Rochefort, and a mix of French and American elements should cause few problems in the age of the World Wide Web. With its color, its verve, and its exhilarating blend of song and dance, this paean to living in the present deserves to be seen and heard in the present.

  • Michel Legrand's score is a dull rehash of the one he wrote for Umbrellas (the advantage is that you won't wake up for weeks singing "I will wait for you"), and the script is thin and meandering... [But] awash in lemon and peach, lavender and baby blue, Young Girls of Rochefort floats from one color-coordinated moment to the next. It earns a place in history by virtue of its production design, which, in this newly restored, wide-screen color version, looks more sweetly camp than ever.

  • Most musicals shift back and forth between story (spoken dialogue) and song-and-dance numbers — sometimes creating queasy transitions just before or after these shifts, when we’re uncertain where we are stylistically. But The Young Girls of Rochefort often daringly places story and musical numbers on the screen simultaneously, mixing them in various ways and in different proportions.

  • Stylistically, Les demoiselles de Rochefort bears significant resemblances to the “Tradition of Quality” as characterised by Alan Williams, with its slick production values, emphasis on Frenchness, and star power. At the same time, the film adheres to the nouvelle vague aesthetic in key respects, especially in terms of personal expression by an auteur-director, location shooting, and quasi-Brechtian reflexivity and distanciation.

  • In a tableau that reduces the missed connections of a complex urbanity into the orchestrations of 8-10 amorous souls, Michel Legrand's hyperactive score projects a traditional musical narrative into just four or five essential themes that mirror and overlap each other in tandem; behold, the first (and last) great fugue musical.

  • Boiled down, the element I find so alluring and so painfully beautiful about this movie as that it routinely hits (and often exceeds) the narcotic peaks of the classic Hollywood musical while simultaneously doing everything in its power to remind us that these heady, snowglobe joys are wholly transitory.

  • The Young Girls of Rochefort is certainly Demy’s most sprawling canvas, particularly when compared with the tightly focused character pieces—Lola (1961), Bay of Angels (1963) and the all-sung The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)—with which he made his name. Part of the film’s brilliance is the way it consistently threatens to spin off its impassioned axis, yet Demy exerts rock-steady control over all the melodramatic twists and extreme tonal shifts.

  • Demy's lyrics never register as corny imperatives; within the utterly convincing florid, fantastic realm he's created here, contravening Delphine and Solange's mandates would be unthinkable... Even in a film that so flawlessly carries out its maker's exacting, effulgent vision, there is still room for imperfections and oddities, which only add to Young Girls' abundant charms.

  • Gloriously composed — visually and aurally — The Young Girls of Rochefort is a lyrically light holiday to this provincial town, with its assortment of pleasant people having their fair share of romantic troubles. Moreover, it’s one of the best musicals the form has ever seen.

  • Seems significant that the ax murder here is perpetrated by a man tired of being turned down by the same woman for 20 years. This is the clearest, most jarring indicator of the film’s real message about love, which is that it’s exhausting, exemplified by a constant focus on movement. All that dancing is in most cases an expression of joy, but ceaseless activity can also feel like a prison, with the unlucky ones unable to stop, always searching for the right person with whom to settle into orbit.

  • With its onslaught of pastel minidresses and array of quirky characters, the film seems destined for a teenage girl’s blog, some forty years before the fact. It’s all good fun: pure 1960s energy, without the operatic sadness of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, but still very much in keeping with Demy’s penchant for vibrant imagery.

  • This isn’t about the broad sweep of life, but rather the minutiae of experiences and interactions that form a community. It’s also surprisingly weird: With his typical bighearted, fleet-footed style, Demy blends romance, drama, comedy, and some aspects of a thriller into a wonderful, mesmerizing whole. He even throws Gene Kelly in there.

  • Nowhere does the ultimate negligibility between harsh experiences and the cinematic transcendence thereof reveal itself more outlandishly than the revelation of one peripheral character's violent double life. With the brio of a Shakespearean comedy, The Young Girls of Rochefort carouses onward with a breezy confidence matched by its open-air production design, a surfeit of sunny outdoor sequences repeatedly returning to the glass-walled transparence of Yvonne's town-square fry stand.

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