From ‘Jour de Fête’ to ‘Céline and Julie Go Boating’, there’s an enchanting minor strain in French cinema devoted to visually reproducing the heady sensation of going to the cinema. And so it is with Jacques Demy’s pastel-hued masterpiece ‘Les Demoiselles de Rochefort’, a luminous musical about dreams, romance and destiny which lovingly reworks the classic Hollywood ‘putting on a show’ template into an essay on the emotional rollercoaster ride that is movie-going.
Released here in a sparkling new print, the film centres on Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac as the ‘pair of twins, born in the sign of Gemini’ looking to escape the sleepy environs of Rochefort for life in the big city. When an all-singin’, all-dancin’ motorcycle roadshow rolls into town, the girls decide to give one last big performance before upping sticks and moving on. Pedants may feel inclined to pick holes in Norman Maen’s stuffy choreography and some of the less-than-subtle lip-synching, but most will already be swept off their feet by Michel Legrand’s scintillating jazz-pop score, charismatic supporting turns from Gene Kelly, Danielle Darrieux and Michel Piccoli, and – predominantly – Demy’s own infectious joie de vivre. See it, and swoon…
Cast and crew