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Bay of Angels (rewatch)

Posted by martinteller on August 15, 2014

Out of the Demy films I’d seen before, this was the one I remembered the least.  But I find my feelings about it now are pretty much the same as when I wrote about it 5 years ago.  It’s less distinctive than other movies by Jacques Demy, but is nonetheless a solid and engaging work.  With another romantic Legrand score, Demy beautifully articulates the chaotic life of the habitual gambler, based on sudden hunches and mystical logic.  Jackie (Jeanne Moreau, in a typically spellbinding performance) flat-out says that gambling is her religion, which makes it less fun for a reviewer to point out that gambling is her religion, because it’s expressed so perfectly that it needn’t be stated.  Jean (Claude Mann, also very good but understandably peeking out from Moreau’s shadow) meanwhile has also caught the gambling bug, but what really makes him lose his senses is the Jackie bug.  Like Lola, like Umbrellas of Cherbourg, and arguably (depending on your point of view) like Donkey Skin, it ends on a note that is both happy and sad.  On the most surface level, it’s full of hope, but underneath is a lot of uncertainty.  No, not uncertainty… actually the certainty that things will go bad, and good, and bad again and good again.  Jackie is inexorably swept up in the up-and-down life of a gambler, and Jean is inexorably swept up in Jackie.  Her feelings for him will be governed by the luck that she perceives he brings to the table.  His feelings for her will likely be governed by how much he can convince himself than he can change her… or how much he can accept her rootless, whimsical lifestyle.  Rating: Very Good (83)


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