Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Bay of Angels
Written and directed by Jacques Demy, La baie des anges (Bay of Angels) is the story of a bank clerk who is introduced to the world of gambling as he falls for a woman with a gambling addiction. The film is an exploration into a man falling in love with a woman where he gets sucked into a world where the risks are very high. Starring Jeanne Moreau, Claude Mann, Paul Guers, Henri Nassiet, and Nicole Chollet. La baie des anges is a sensational film from Jacques Demy.
The film is a simple story of a bank clerk whose friend introduces him to the world of gambling where he gets sucked in as he travels to Nice to gamble some more where he meets a beautiful yet troubled woman with a gambling problem. There, the two endure the highs and lows of gambling where they win big and then lose big as it creates something that plays into whether or not is risking money and livelihood worth it all for a bunch of money? Jacques Demy’s script does play to a traditional structure yet it is largely told from the perspective of Jean (Claude Mann) who is just a bank clerk that is just trying to have a good life and help his father.
Yet, he gets sucked into this high-octane world of winning and losing money but manages to figure out the game of roulette and wins big through his wit. Upon meeting Jackie (Jeanne Moreau) in Nice, he falls in love and becomes consumed by winning big but also lose big as he would also know more about Jackie and her troubled addiction as she is someone that clearly has a problem. While she tries to act cool about it and pretend that it doesn’t affect her, Jean definitely knows she has a problem as he tries to make sense while he begins to realize the dangers of gambling.
Demy’s direction has an air of style in terms of the camera movements and compositions yet does maintain a sense of simplicity in its visuals and approach to storytelling. Notably as Demy creates something where the audience becomes invested into Jean’s discovery into the world of gambling where they too will probably guess a number and wonder if he’ll win or lose. Demy would create these intricate medium and wide shots to play into the world of casinos as he uses a lot of tracking shots to showcase how intimate and vast these small casinos are. The close-ups would add to the drama as it relates to Jackie’s own anguish and the sense of fear that looms over Jean when both of them have their backs against the wall when it comes to losing.
Especially as their trip to Monte Carlo becomes a disastrous one where it would add to the drama as well as Jean’s own revelation about gambling as it relates to what his father told him earlier in the film. It would all play into not just Jean trying to convince Jackie that she’s risking so much more but also the fact that there is a way out. Not just on the roulette table but in life itself. Overall, Demy creates a very compelling yet evocative film about a young man who encounters the world of gambling and a woman with a gambling problem.
Cinematographer Jean Rabier does excellent work with the film‘s black-and-white photography from its usage of lights for scenes set at night in its interior and exterior settings to the more naturalistic look into the streets of Nice where it looks more low-key and real. Editor Anne-Marie Cotret does fantastic work with the editing with its usage of jump-cuts to play into some of the excitement that occurs in winning as well as other stylish cuts to play into the drama. Set decorator/costume designer Bernard Evein, with costumer Pierre Cardin, does amazing work with the look of the casino halls and hotel rooms as well as the stylish clothes that Jackie and Jean wear.
The sound work of Andre Hervee is terrific for the naturalistic atmosphere that is created inside the casinos and in some of the locations including the beaches in Nice and Monte Carlo. The film’s music by Michel Legrand is phenomenal as it is a mixture of jazz and classical where it features a few playful pieces but also a piano flourish theme that plays into moments of good luck for Jean and Jackie along with a somber theme based on string instruments as it’s one of the film’s highlights.
The film’s superb cast includes a few notable small roles from Nicole Chollet as a customer of Jean’s father, Andres Certes as the bank director, Conchita Parodi as the hotel manager in Nice, Henri Nassiet as Jean’s father, and Paul Guers as Jean’s colleague Caron who would introduce him to the world of gambling. Claude Mann is brilliant as Jean as a young bank clerk who is seduced into the world of gambling as he tries to figure out how to play well while being cautious into every move he makes. Finally, there’s Jeanne Moreau in a remarkable performance as Jackie as this woman with platinum blonde hair who is the epitome of beauty but is a complete mess inside when things don’t go her way as she is upbeat when she wins but falls apart when she loses as it’s a performance filled with anguish and charm.
La baie des anges is an exquisitely rich and exhilarating film from Jacques Demy. Featuring great performances from Jeanne Moreau and Claude Mann as well as an amazing score by Michel Legrand. The film isn’t just a unique study into the world of gambling and addiction but also how a man become seduced into a world that is new as he falls for a woman whose descent would force him to take action. In the end, La baie des anges is an incredible film from Jacques Demy.
Jacques Demy Films: (Lola (1961 film)) - The Umbrellas of Cherbourg - The Young Girls of Rochefort - (Model Shop) - Donkey Skin - (The Pied Piper (1972 film)) - (A Slightly Pregnant Man) - (Lady Oscar) - (La Naissance du Jour) - (Une chambre en ville) - (Parking (1985 film)) - (Three Places for the 26th) - Turning Table)
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