Le Plaisir (1952)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB

France, 1952.  Compagnie Commerciale Française Cinématographique, Stera Films.  Adaptation by , Max Ophuls, Dialogue by Jacques Natanson, based on stories by .  Cinematography by , .  Produced by , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Max Ophuls adapts three Guy De Maupassant stories for an aesthetically pleasing film that whiles away the time with its beauty and delicacy. All set in the nineteenth century, the first story is a short prologue about an old man who deals with age by masking himself as someone younger and dancing his cares away at a ball, only to hit his limit and have to be taken home on the brink of death. The second has a house full of prostitutes take a leisurely trip out to the countryside where they attend a church service and see the effects that restraint has on a life that is usually devoted to pleasure. Following this is a gorgeously shot stormy romance between a sculptor and a model that ends in tragedy. As usual, Ophuls goes nowhere in terms of depth: his films are often celebrated for their complete devotion to surface, but what is on the surface is meticulously filmed by his constantly moving camera and gorgeous attention to period detail. is a standout in the second tale as the girls’ madam.

The Criterion Collection:  #444

Academy Award Nomination:  Best Art Direction-BW

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