Saturday, July 21, 2012

LA CHAMADE (1968) 

The young and beautiful Lucile (Catherine Deneuve) lives a life of leisure as the mistress of the rich, older Charles (Michel Piccoli). She has her admirers but none pose any threat to their domestic situation until Antoine (Roger Van Hool), a young and struggling writer, gets her attention during a croquet game when he sacrifices his play and allows her to cheat so she can win—she announces proudly that she likes winning. Antoine breaks things off with his mistress and Lucile begins a casual affair with him that grows more intense—to the point where she begins practicing how to break the news to Charles that she's leaving him—but she's not sure she can face leaving a life of relative luxury as a kept woman and move into Antoine's small apartment. Charles and Lucile go off to the Riveria and Antoine hears stories that she's begun drinking, so when she returns, he talks her into leaving Charles. He gets her a job at a magazine archives but unbeknownst to him, she quits and begins selling her jewels and gambles in order to get money. Will she be able to resist returning to a loveless but materially comfortable relationship with Charles? Deneuve is lovely and does as much as she can with an unsympathetic character, but this low-key movie never builds any fire or passion. A few scenes between Deneuve and Piccoli have some feeling, and Van Hool gives his character some depth, but this winds up being a love triangle without much at stake. I did like Antoine's cluttered apartment. [Netflix streaming]

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