Jacques Demy’s Two Shades of Ennui: Lola (1961) + Model Shop (1969)

May 30, 2018 | By

Full confession: I’ve never been a fan of Jacques Demy’s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, largely because I can’t get past spoken dialogue melded to melody and score, but perhaps the diretor’s Lola / Cecile diptych might provide a gentle doorway into his peculiar world where characters, images, sounds, and colours move in a stylized dance. In other words, maybe I’ll warm up to the classic.

Demy’s feature film debut came in the form of Lola (1961), which didn’t introduce French icon Anouk Aimée to English language audiences – she’d already had roles in Anatole Litvak’s The Journey (1959) and Frederico Fellini’s art house hit La Dolce Vita (1960) – but Lola perhaps prepped us for Aimée in A Man and a Woman (1966), Claude Lelouch’s bittersweet romance (and a film SCREAMING for a Blu-ray release, since the DVD’s been OOP for quite some time).

Criterion released Lola on Blu a few years ago, and Aimée reprised the role of the cabaret singer / dancer in Model Shop (1969), Demy’s lone American studio film which didn’t seem to please Columbia because of its low key tone, ennui-steeped characters, and meandering first half as a bum (Gary Lockwood) follows a model as he’s waiting for his draft call to chime.

Twilight Time’s Blu features an isolated score of Spirit’s unreleased cues, but more importantly, it showcases 1969 Los Angeles in its rambling, two storey quaintness. Both films reflect Demy’s visual style and unique use of music – sometimes metaphoric, subtextual, or conventional source – and two leads delivering oddly compelling performances of characters caught in dead end lives until fate sparks a wake up in both.




Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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