Sunday, January 03, 2010

Bay of Angels (La baie des anges) 1963

It has been a while since we watched a Jeanne Moreau movie, so we took Netflix’s suggestion for “Bay of Angels.” Big mistake! This Jacques Demy creation is a bleak depiction of gambling addiction, more public service announcement than entertainment.

Claude Mann plays Jean, a young man newly introduced to gambling by a friend. Tired of his conservative life, he takes a vacation, intent on expanding his horizons and living a little dangerously. He meets Jacqueline (Jeanne Moreau) in a casino and gets sucked into her roller-coaster life of compulsive gambling.

Jacques Demy has some charming little movies, like “Lola” and “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.” This film, though, is just painful to watch. When Jean and Jacqueline win, you know they are just going to lose it all again, and you know from the beginning that Jacqueline is never going to change. The only real question is whether or not Jean will become a gambling addict or win his way free of the situation. Unfortunately, the film never really makes us care enough about Jean to generate much suspense. Basically, the story is one predictable, bad outcome after another, without any real drama or action. The ending feels very tacked-on, as well. To top it all off, Jeanne Moreau looks cheap and ragged-out as a platinum blond.

An interesting noir could have been made out of this basic premise. Instead, “Bay of Angels” is a boring character study about one character who is unlikable (Jacqueline) and one who is not really developed (Jean).

1 star

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