21 November 2019 | boblipton
Visual Fantasy Fails To Overwhelm Soap Opera Piffle
Viviane Romance is a cafe singer and commercial model. Her boyfriend, sailor Georges Flamant, doesn't care for either of these, since it means that her face is on packages of cigarettes in every dockworker's pocket, and the place she works is unsavory. He rages at her that she's cheating on him. When she discovers she is going blind, she doesn't tell him; instead, she engineers a break by claiming every unsavory thing he worries about is true. Flamant goes on a yearlong voyage, and when he comes back with a wife and daughter, she doesn't tell him she has had his child; friends tell him, and he doesn't believe them. Then the baby dies from diphtheria and she goes mad.
It's two and a half hours of storytelling, during which I thought that killing all the characters would be a kindness, not only to them, but to me. However, this is a movie by Abel Gace, which means that during all the miserable plot twists, we are treated to visual fantasy. I was good and tired of Mlle. Romance (subtle stage name, lady!) and her real-life husband Flamant It's just that the mad Dutch angles and process shots under the supervision of Gance's frequent cinematographer Léonce-Henri Burel lent an air of fantasy to this dockyard romance.
The CINEMA DE CAHIERS crowd hated Gance, mostly for his ridiculous stories of the 1930s and 1940s. I haven't had the chance to see many of them, but if this is typical, I can understand their disdain for his long-winded storytelling. I'm might do to make Napoleon's life an epic, but this? No.