Lola, the celebrated debut feature of Jacques Demy – much lesser discoursed vis-à-vis his Nouvelle Vague compatriots, perhaps on account of ostensibly being least radical of the lot – is a wistful and evocative work that was memorably anachronistic in a decade marked by an explosion of formal and thematic audacity. This was, after all, the year of Antonioni’s La Notte, Bergman’s Through A Glass Darkly, Bunuel’s Viridiana, Imamura’s Pigs and Battleships, Resnais’s Last Year at Marienbad, etc.; hence this, with its muted delicacy, poetic realism and straight-up storytelling, might appear almost conventional in their midst. It nevertheless had a curious mix of tonal variances and stylistic choices – viz/., on one hand, the strikingly moody B/W photography by Raoul Coutard, infusion of jazz riffs and the immediacy of on-location shoots; while, on the other, overt sentimentality and a narrative almost exclusively propelled by coincidences. The film is set in Nantes where, over the course of a couple of days, we meet a series of intersecting characters who’re all dreaming of love and an elusive happiness in their dreary existences. Its two central characters are Lola (Anouk Aimée), a lovelorn cabaret dancer and single mother who’s still waiting for her fiancé who’d left her 7 years back; and Roland (Marc Michel), a young guy laced with ennui and aimlessness who decides to take a shady job, until he suddenly bumps into Lola who he’s silent held a torch for many years. Throw in a mournful American sailor, a 13-year old girl who keeps crossing paths with both guys, and her pensive mother, and what you have is a movie with a plot ridden with contrivances but also possessing moments of quiet melancholy.
Director: Jacques Demy
Genre: Drama/Urban Drama/Romantic Drama