Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. France/USA, 1961. Argus Film, Mercury Productions. Screenplay by Samuel A. Taylor, based on the novel Aimez-vous Brahms? by Francoise Sagan. Cinematography by Armand Thirard. Produced by Anatole Litvak. Music by Georges Auric. Production Design by Alexandre Trauner. Film Editing by Bert Bates. Cannes Film Festival 1961.
Ingrid Bergman is divine as a Paris interior decorator who has been dating Yves Montand for five years, the both of them divorcees who are jaded about marriage and have agreed to give each other plenty of room. She insists that she is fine with the coterie of young girls he is constantly getting down with in between their classy dinners, but this determination is put to the test when a scrappy young lawyer (a delightfully spry Anthony Perkins) falls madly in love with her and insists on getting into her bed. She develops an affection for the boy that increases while her inability to ignore the hopelessness of her situation with Montand sees her challenged between what she has and what she wants. More important, what she doesn’t have with Montand is socially acceptable and comfortable in her mind, while staying with Perkins, whose immaturity is sometimes mercurial and other times downright frustrating, means having to face the challenge of public scrutiny and ridicule (“How old is she,” remarks one uncouth youngster when he sees them at dinner). It’s smart and sexy, constantly taking place in chic restaurants and swanky nightclubs, lorded over by Anatole Litvak’s smooth direction that remains sturdy even when the ending is slightly overdue. Most to its benefit is a screenplay rife with terrific dialogue by Samuel Taylor, overflowing with the kind of acrid romantic sentiment that made the original author Francoise Sagan’s writings so memorable.