Review: Les Demoiselles De Rochefort (The Young Girls Of Rochefort, 1967)

the young girls of rochefort

A whole lot of singing and dancing, and then some more!

Written By: Jacques Demy
Directed By: Jacques Demy

The teaser supplied above adequately describes Les Demoiselles De Rochefort. There’s not much more to the film than a lot of well choreographed singing and dancing. For most people that will be enough, and in a way I envy those people. The singing and the dancing is darn spiffy, but the spiffiness lacked a certain whimsy I was looking for. In a movie that is emulating the classic Hollywood musical a certain amount of whimsy is needed. In songs like Chanson Des Jumelles there is a fair amount of whimsy, but as soon as the music fades so does the whimsy. I wanted that fleeting feeling of whimsy, and I always felt that Les Demoiselles De Rochefort stopped short of delivering enough whimsy.

The performance of Gene Kelly, as Andy Miller, is emblematic of the problems I had with Les Demoiselles De Rochefort. It’s Gene Kelly, and his arrival instantly raised my hopes for the film. I was enjoying Les Demoiselles De Rochefort up until Mr. Kelly appeared, but once Gene Kelly enters your musical certain expectations arise. Mr. Kelly’s performance never met those expectations. His dancing was fine, full of the physicality and prowess I’ve come to love from Mr. Kelly. His singing, however, really threw me for a loop. The majority of it is dubbed, but unlike the other performances I found the voice chosen for Mr. Kelly to be hollow and without soul. I didn’t believe he was swept up in a romance with Françoise Dorléac because I didn’t believe the voice that was singing was Gene Kelly’s.

Most of Les Demoiselles De Rochefort followed the blueprint of the Andy Miller character. There was something about every character that was off enough for me to not completely buy into them. This trickled into the film consistently seeming off-kilter, not completely, but enough to effect my enjoyment of the proceedings. Sometimes it’s the little things that hurt a film, and in the case of Les Demoiselles De Rochefort the little things that were off about the film led to much larger problems with the film as a whole.

The singing and dancing in Les Demoiselles De Rochefort is memorable. Not memorable enough to overcome the inability I felt to connect with the film. Still, I found myself caught up in a few of the song and dance numbers. The two main female performances were delightful, and as a throwback to the classic Hollywood musical Les Demoiselles De Rochefort is a serviceable effort. I wanted more from Jacques Demy’s film, but that may be on me more than the film itself. I can see most people absolutely loving Les Demoiselles De Rochefort, but it left me unfulfilled and without the whimsy I so desperately wanted from the film.

Rating:

***

Cheers,
Bill

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