A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Darling (John Schlesinger, 1965)

Diana Scott: Julie Christie
Robert Gold: Dirk Bogarde
Miles Brand: Laurence Harvey
Prince Cesare della Romita: José Luis de Vilallonga
Malcolm: Roland Curram

Director: John Schlesinger
Screenplay: Frederic Raphael
Cinematography: Kenneth Higgins
Art direction: Ray Simm
Film editing: Jim Clark
Costume design: Julie Harris
Music: John Dankworth

When Darling was first released, the marriage of its protagonist, Diana Scott, to a minor European royal was taken to be a sly reference to the marriage of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco. Today, it looks a lot more like a strikingly prophetic vision of the future awaiting Diana Spencer, then only 4 years old, who would find that marrying a prince entails not only a lot of unwelcome attention but also a good deal of boredom. Boredom is the keynote of Darling, as well as its undoing. There were filmmakers like Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Alain Resnais who could portray the existential ennui of the glamorous upper classes without boring their audiences as well, but John Schlesinger wasn't one of them. Julie Christie gives her considerable all as Diana Scott, a pretty young model whose lack of inner substance is her undoing, and she won an Oscar for her pains. But her performance isn't enough to save the film from tedium. As written by Frederic Raphael, who also won an Oscar, there's not enough to Diana to keep us interested in her fate. Instead, the filmmakers fall back on thudding irony, like Diana's being hyped as "The Happiness Girl" when we know that she's cruelly unhappy. The blame falls on the media exploiters, of course, the producers and journalists and ad-men who could hardly care less about the person they're exploiting. But they're an easy target, and for the blame to land we need to feel that there's more to Diana than meets the eye, that she's a victim of something more than her own aimlessness. Unfortunately, we never get a sense that there's unexplored potential to the character.

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