| The Earrings of Madame de...
Director Max Ophuls
Writer Marcel Achard, Max Ophuls, Annette Wademant, based on the novel by Louise de Vilmorin
Stars Charles Boyer, Danielle Darrieux, Vittorio De Sica, Lia Di Lea, Mireille Perrey
Running time 100 minutes
Made France/Italy 1953
Reviewed by Nic O
THIS seemingly endless film begins with the stunning Madame de... (we never do learn her full name) selling her diamond earrings and then trying to make her husband believe she's lost them. Naturally, he is not too impressed since they were originally his wedding gift to her.
We now follow the much convoluted route of the jewellery as it is given and sold to various members of Madame de...'s extended circle. However, despite the number of people brought into the story, the film is really only concerned with Madame de... and her relationships with both her husband (the glorious and slightly sleazy Charles Boyer) and her dashing Italian diplomat lover (an intense and romantic Vittorio De Sica).
Unusually for Ophuls, his clever use of the camera is not particularly intrusive and, whilst the opulent costume drama surroundings are not exactly a reflection of gritty reality, he manages to make the film look a lot less staged than usual.
Ophul's obsession with tortuous romances is yet again evident and, despite some nicely judged twinkling cynicism from the leads (Boyer in particular), the film just doesn't quite manage to break out of it's superficial shell.
Danielle Derrieux's Madame de... is certainly interesting and flirtatious, but her fondness for manipulation makes her eventual attempt at sincere love look unconvincing (her life is really not hard enough to make you feel much sympathy).
Despite being a beautiful-looking film with three attractive and agreeably capable leads - it just doesn't quite work. The earrings are an infuriatingly over-used plot device, with each reappearance becoming increasingly predictable (rather like the masks in Mission Impossible 2).
Allegedly Ophuls told the costume designer that "the jewels are the only thing that interest me". Somehow I believe that statement completely. A film for die-hard romantics, or frustrated production designers only.