Tag Archives: French cinema

Le Voyage en Douce

Poster for Le Voyage en Douce
Dominique Sanda and Geraldine Chaplin

I don’t think you’ll see this film in too many places but it’s one of my favorites. Starring Dominique Sanda and Geraldine Chaplin, Le Voyage en Douce is one of those soft, erotic French films that no other country seems to be able to emulate. I first saw the movie in the ’80s and then again in the early ’90s. It’s been stuck in my memory since the start.

Based on 15 separate stories, the movie seems to move seamlessly  from one erotic episode to another. Dominique Sanda seems to be the initiator while Geraldine Chaplin is the naive apprentice. Chaplin, however, seems very eager to learn from Sanda. The interaction is delightful, funny and tender.

Le Voyage en Douce was directed by Michel Deville, director of La Lectrice, another classic. If you aren’t familiar with European films, specially French films, you will notice the lack of a ‘sound track’. American films can’t seem to shut up sometimes. There is always music etc. to fill the spaces but in this film (and many others) the director gives us silence when there is no dialogue, allowing only ambient noises to creep in. When Sanda is in the dark summer house, we hear the crickets and the summer sounds. Sure they were probably cranked up a bit but the effect is very beautiful. French films, for the most part, are simply more mature than most American movies, assuming that the viewer is intelligent and discerning enough to figure things out on their own.

Trivia: In some French films you will not hear music until the actor turns on a radio. Otherwise, the directors thought, the audience wouldn’t know where the music is coming from. American movies seem to continually have a full orchestra, even in the middle of a battlefield or out in the empty prairie.

Although there is some nudity in the movie, there is nothing hard or coarse. Anything sexual or erotic is innocent, deftly handled and sweet. Having two female leads adds to the overall effect. Not that men can’t be tender and sweet but in this film we get the feeling that men just aren’t needed, at least not during the period shown during the movie.

The film has been described as being ‘aimless’ (Janet Maslin of the New York Times). I suppose it is but is that any different from having cops chasing a McGuffin endlessly through a film? The aimlessness is a vital part of the feeling in the movie, part of the endless summer feeling that pervades this classic.

If you can, check this movie out. I’m not sure where you’ll find it but take some time to look. Maybe you won’t agree with my assessment but you’ll have a relaxing 98 minutes regardless.

Thanks for reading!

Sitting in a Cafe
Look for the golden glow in this movie.


Bed and Board

I always thought the title of this movie was ‘Bed and Bored’. Bored seemed to make more sense than board. Check it out and see what you think.

Bed and Board is part of the continuing story of Antoine Doinel, the very charismatic hero of several of Francois Truffaut’s films. Starting with the 400 Blows and ending with Love on the Run, Truffaut follows Doinel over about twenty years of his life. Bed and Board is my favourite part of the series. It’s cute, achingly naive and superbly acted. Only see it with sub-titles, of course. This rule is for any foreign film that is mentioned here.

The movie stars Jean-Pierre Léaud and Claude Jade as husband and wife. The story unfolds very slowly, part of the discovered narrative style that is evident in many European films. A discovered narrative is simply a movie in which the plot evolves over time, sometimes not until halfway through the film. Unlike the in-your-face American style of film, made for less cultured audiences, these movies seem initially slow moving, perhaps even a bit boring. In this particular movie, Léaud keeps things moving, constantly begging the audience to look at him while he goes about his tasks as a flower seller. Basically, just sit and watch and the story or plot will become evident. Don’t expect car chases and lost microfilm, however. These films are all about life and love, sometimes even the pursuit of happiness. As a shining example of classic European cinema, Bed and Board stands up to scrutiny, even forty years after its release.

Claude Jade is very easy to look at and her interaction with Léaud is quite unique in film. It’s almost as if they are a real couple, The bedroom scenes are very amusing and quite touching. Everyone in this film is very good, as a matter of fact. Different themes run through the story and Truffaut uses repetition to amuse his audience.

The story isn’t going to be explained here, look up the wiki if you want to know about it. Basically, you should rent it or catch it on Netflix. Any film that I review is guaranteed to be thought provoking and well made. You can use this site as a resource for those times when you can’t seem to find anything to watch.

As always, thanks for reading!

Star Dressed in Kimono with Sticks in Hair
Claude Jade looks for revenge!


Domicile Conjugal
Original French Poster