Run time: 89 mins
Admiring the lush, pastel-coloured wonders of French new-wave director Jacques Demy’s 1964 Palme d’Or winner, you can’t help but fall in love with it.
This melodramatic musical – which La La Land director Damien Chazelle said was a key influence on his film – is set between 1957 and 1963, and stars a radiant Catherine Deneuve. She’s an umbrella shopkeeper’s teenage daughter left pregnant by her mechanic boyfriend (Nino Castelnuovo), who’s left for military service, and forced by her mother to marry a rich jeweller. It’s an entirely sung-through musical, with nary a spoken word in site.
It’s not all rainbows (even if the film’s colour pallette suggests so); Demy manages to cut to the quick of the realities of love, never forgetting that the giddy heights can also send us crashing back down to earth. Umbrellas retains its direct appeal to the eyes, ears, and tear ducts after five decades, with an emotionalism that’s shameless but never crass. Demy and Michele Legrand (who wrote the music) give their love story a depth that, beneath the tinsel and Technicolor, is only made possible by a beating, broken heart. (Jack Whiting)