Saturday, June 01, 2002

DARLING (1965)

I liked this swingin' 60's relic quite a bit, even though its critical repuation has gone downhill since Julie Christie won the Oscar for her performance. Christie plays a model, living in London, whose career skyrockets as she moves up the "boyfriend" ladder. She leaves her husband (a teenage marriage she felt stuck in) to shack up with Dirk Bogarde (who wouldn't?), an intellectual and somewhat older TV journalist, then leaves him for a powerful and decadent PR man (Lawrence Harvey). Next, she spends some time with her gay photographer friend (a truly ahead-of-its-time portrayal of such a friendship), and winds up married to an older (and very rich) Italian man. One of the messages, of course, is that money can't buy you love (in the words of a Beatles song that came out the year before this movie). By the end of the movie, she seems even more trapped than she ever was with her first husband. Even her career success doesn't seem to make her happy. As a satire of a time, a place and a class, it feels a bit obvious almost 40 years later, but the style of the film makes it always interesting to watch. Christie and Bogarde are wonderful, bringing life to what could have been cardboard roles. The "orgy" scene in here, like a similar scene in SECONDS, just goes to show that decadence on the big screen usually winds up looking a bit pitiful and silly.

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