It is 1967 and Jacques Demy and Agnès Varda set up home in Los Angeles. He has signed a contract with Columbia, brokered by his friend and producer Gerald Ayers (who he met when Parapluies de Cherbourg was nominated for an Oscar in 1965). She throws herself into the discovery of counterculture in full swing and films Black Panthers and Lions Love. […] It is with a vague disbelief that Demy allows himself to be seduced by the Californian good life, happy to be in the homeland of his favourite type of cinema, but also excited by the movements of young protesters and flower children that are beginning to upset both Hollywood (the last breath of the studios) and America (which is divided over the war in Vietnam). […] Demy’s first (and last) American film is Model Shop, with a more modest budget, perfect for a trial round. Filming takes place in March and April 1968. After L.A., Jacques Demy has his own revolution: while Columbia is doubtlessly waiting for a more expensive version of Parapluies de Cherbourg or Demoiselles de Rochefort, he is making a documentary-style film about twenty-four hours in the broken life of a young architect, who is out of work and recovering from a break up, travelling around the roads of Los Angeles in a small emerald green car which he cannot afford. He meets a beautiful woman in white with an intriguing accent in a car park and he decides to follow her. This woman is… Lola. The Lola from Demy’s first film, played by Anouk Aimée. After importing Gene Kelly to Rochefort, Demy cannot resist bringing a bit of Nantes back to Hollywood. […] What gives Model Shop its bitter-sweet resonance, in addition to Lola’s abysmal wound, is the call up for Vietnam where his destiny lies and which was really happening as the film was being made. Although today is painless enough, the following Monday he will go to war. We are in well-known territory: Demy has not left his bitter pessimism at home, but Model Shop has an unusual freshness that owes to its ultralight filming in natural environments, the incomparable sparkling light of Los Angeles that Demy happily discovers while filming. He visits the city following in his hero’s footsteps, he stops in front of a folk group rehearsing, he goes into the hippy premises of a progressive newspaper, he gives a lift to a young hippy who offers to pay with a joint: “Let me out at the Sunset!” Life is so simple, awaiting complications.
Clélia Cohen, Model Shop, Jacques Demy l’enchanteur, “Les Inrockuptibles – Hors série”, April 2013.
Cast and Credits
Scen.: Jacques Demy. F.: Michel Hugo. M.: Walter Thompson. Scgf.: Kenneth A. Reid. Mus.: Spirit. Su.: Les Fresholtz, Arthur Piantadosi, Charles J. Rice. Int.: Anouk Aimée (Lola/Cecile), Gary Lockwood (George Matthews), Alexandra Hay (Gloria), Carol Cole (Barbara), Tom Holland (Gerry), Severn Darden (l’uomo corpulento), Neil Elliot (Fred). Prod.: Jacques Demy per Columbia Pictures. Pri. pro.: 11 febbraio 1969 · 35mm. Col.
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