Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
France, 1985. France 3 Cinema, Garance. Screenplay by Jacques Demy. Cinematography by Jean-Francois Robin. Music by Michel Legrand. Production Design by Patrice Mercier. Costume Design by Rosalie Varda. Film Editing by Marie-Josee Audiard, Sabine Mamou.
Jacques Demy pays charming tribute to Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus with this semi-remake of the 1950 classic. Francis Huster and his perpetual eighties headband play a popular singer named Orphee, preparing for a big concert while spending his off hours at home with his beloved Eurydice (Keiko Itô). After being electrocuted by his electric guitar during rehearsal, he travels to the underworld where the boss (Cocteau’s original muse Jean Marais) and his beautiful second-in-command (Marie-France Pisier filling in for Maria Casares) tell him that it is not yet his time. He goes back to earth but is permanently changed, obsessed with this vision of the afterlife and propelled towards glamorous tragedy. There’s a lot of talk about the nature of life and beauty (a nod to the original maestro being venerated) and a handful of Michel Legrand songs, none of which have survived the decade particularly well. There’s also sweet fun to be had in the super cool imagery that brings Cocteau’s style of ground-level effects in with great pizzazz: the emphasis on mirrors, the black and white photography tinged by streaks of red whenever Orphee is in the underworld make for a memorable if not solid viewing experience.