on in this Claude Lelouch film, there are shots of a guy who is supposed to
be playing the trumpet (backing up a woman who’s acting like she’s
singing). I’ve been watching
movies all my life. I’ve seen
unathletic guys like William Bendix try to be Babe Ruth, Woody Harrelson try
to look like a basketball player, Alan Alda try to look like a football
player (to be fair, Alda was trying to look like George Plimpton looking
like a football player, but Plimpton was athletic, at least).
But I’ve never seen a more inept job of acting than this guy trying
to look like he’s playing the trumpet.
He’s even worse than Stu Sutcliffe when he was an original member
of The Beatles without any musical talent, so he tried to hide on stage
pretending to plunk the guitar he was holding but didn’t have a clue how
to play. I played the trumpet a little when I was a teenager, so I know a
little bit about it. There’s
not much to it, but what there is is all in the lips.
This guy barely presses the trumpet to his lips.
Sometimes, when it shows him playing the trumpet in a band backing up
the singer near the end of the movie, you can hear the trumpet, but you can
see that the trumpet isn’t anywhere near his mouth!
It’s ludicrous, but it epitomizes the sloppiness with which this
movie was made.
you will never see another movie with more platitudes.
They were so stomach-churningly simplistic I can’t even remember
one to quote. But if you think
that something like, “the end is just the beginning and the beginning is
just the end and the middle is just something in between,” sounds inane (I
made that up), what you hear in the movie makes what I just wrote sound
incredibly profound. And you
read one (a lot of this is subtitled) every couple of minutes.
Tony, how did you like the movie?
the legendary Los Angeles sportscaster Jim Healy used to say about former
Philadelphia Eagles owner, Leonard Tose, Writer-Director-Producer Lelouch
(known mainly for his creation of 1966’s A Man and a Woman), has,
uh, lost it (if, indeed, he ever had it).
The first hour is interminable. Valentin Valentin
(Jeremy Irons) is a jewel thief who has a problem with blackouts.
Jane Lester (Patricia Kaas) is a saloon singer who has the same
problem. But the problem with
this film is that Valentin and Jane don’t meet until an hour into the
film. Lelouch should have
blacked out the first hour.
has used a bunch of hackneyed tricks to try to assemble this into what might
appear to be a thoughtful film, like time warps and the like.
Alas, they don’t work. Nobody
cares whether what we’re seeing is a flashback or a dream or reality.
During the first hour I kept feeling like Elaine in the Seinfeld
episode when she was watching The English Patient, and finally got so
fed up she yelled out, “Get on with it and die so we can get out of
gives his standardized sensitive man performance.
Kaas is so one-dimensional she sometimes appears catatonic.
The credits say that it’s her voice we hear when she’s singing,
but she lip syncs to her own voice so poorly that I thought maybe it was old
Marni Nixon’s voice. One thing that might hold your interest is trying to
spot ‘60s femme fatale Claudia Cardinale.
She sure doesn’t look like she did in the ‘60s, but then who
does? Actually, Claudia is one
person who gives a good performance. Other than that, while the first hour
of this seems interminable, it picks up in the second hour, but you’re
still wishing that they’d “get on with it."
further from this film is Michel Legrand’s dirge-like music.
I had admired some of Legrand’s music until I heard Kaas’s
renditions. Unfortunately, Kaas warbles them endlessly.
Instead of being evocative, they’re mostly forgettable with pompous
lyrics that contribute to the banality of the script.