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Her train journey ( she goes away for three months ) is an attempt to clear her head. And I think she gives it the good old college try. When she tears up the letters she writes the Baron, ( “I answered all your letters, my love. But I never had the courage to mail my replies.” ) those bits of blowing paper turn into falling snow. As stunning a metaphor as I’ve ever seen. Was that how expansive her love was? Did her love cover the Baron’s landscape?
Her walk along the beach is the first time we see her in very wide open spaces. And alone. Let the girl breathe, for Pete’s sake. ( Heck, I was able to breathe ). She could think without the Baroque clutter engulfing her.
Paying closer attention to Boyer’s character this time around, I find his acting hits an impeccably right note. He plays a man restrained, holding his tongue, biding his time to get his wife back. He faces her “condition” as if her Love is a malady. When she lies in bed with lovesickness, he decides NOT to go out, but help her conquer this…this infatuation or whatEVER she thinks this is. At first I thought he was being mean and anal, constricting. But he’s concerned. He goes around the room drawing the curtains to keep…Love out? I think he needed her quarantined to protect HIS love. With the last curtain drawn, he quietly says to himself he loves her. It wasn’t aloud so much for her, but for you and I to hear: he loves her.
“Shall we have a serious conversation? I know neither of us are in the habit but I trust we’ll muddle through.”
When he finally talks with her, it hurts to realize how much of a slave to love he’d been. We learn the depth of his feeling.
“You’re trying to turn remorse into memories. Up until now, though I didn’t play a large part in your life, I was the only one. There was camaraderie, even gaiety between us. You know Louise, I’ve never particularly liked the role you gave me to play. But I played along to avoid displeasing you. It’s not what I would have chosen.”
I also strongly suspect that if Louise had crooked her little finger with true affection …he would have dropped on his sword, to his knees for her. He had to stay. He was in love.
A MAN’S GOT TO DO WHAT A MAN’S GOT TO DUEL
The earrings were just as much the star of the picture as our three human leads. The journey of those earrings still has me reeling. Some might cynically say they come back like a bad penny. Traveling with the irony of a Guy de Maupassant short story the earrings were not only a “symbol” of their love but felt like they were love ITSELF. I felt like I was actually looking at Love in its tangible form. How did I cross that anthropomorphic threshold? At the end of the day, the earrings of Madame de… probably wound up in a place where they could do the most good…or the least harm. Max Ophüls is a fantastic director. I’m going to really seek him out and have a mini-film festival here at home as soon as my heart stabilizes. He has emotion and camera movement and irony and thought and depth to his films.
He makes Love seem like the most tragic thing in the world. Take THAT for your happily-ever-after.
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