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Madame de…

Directed by Max Ophuls

France, 1953

Cornerhouse, 26 May 2013

Madame de…

Madame de… is an intriguing film, a costume drama centring around a grand love affair that features lots of waltzing and ends with a duel, but you’d be hard pressed to call it a classic.

I enjoyed it more for the loose ends and inexplicable occurrences (what became of Lola in Constantinople?  Why was Madame de… in debt at the start?  How could the general, her husband, be at once worldly yet also so petulant and petty?) than for the main, overly melodramatic love story.  A women’s film, a weepie, a star vehicle for the likes of Danielle Darrieux, Charles Boyer and Vittorio De Sica: that’s most likely how the film was seen at the time.  Darrieux’s personage seems not only fickle but unwell, constantly on the verge of hysteria.  Though maybe she’s just a woman in love.

With several artistic touches certainly, yet as well a fair number of problematic lacunae, Madame de… is definitely worth a watch.  But Max Ophuls has made much better films.

Madame de… is showing again on Wednesday as part of the Matinee Classics season, further details are here.