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Three stories about the pleasure. The first one is about a man hiding his age behind a mask to keep going to balls and fancying women - pleasure and youth. Then comes the long tale of Mme Tellier taking her girls (whores) to the country for attending her niece's communion - pleasure and purity. And lastly, Jean the painter falling in love with his model - pleasure and death.
The commonest features of fictional brothels tend to fall either on the side of eloquence and class or poverty and brutality; domesticity and mundanity are rarely depicted. It's such a rare idea in cinema, or at least the cinema I am familiar with, that I was completely caught off guard by the idea of a brothel going on vacation. Honestly, even the idea of a single employee thereof having time off struck me as odd, but having the entire brothel holiday together struck me as uniquely quaint. It simply was not in my narrative vocabulary. I understand that in places where such things are legal, vacations and sick days and whatnot are probably required by law, but I never gave…
After a very brief respite in order to gather some thoughts and allow the recollections of this film to simmer in my mind, I've come to the conclusion that this is my favorite by Max Ophuls. Not only that but I also hold the opinion that it is in Le Plaisir that his cinematic prowess in visual language comes to a pinnacle. It is truly a film that transcends the medium as a work of art while also greatly influencing said medium in tremendous ways.
Take for instance of how Paul Thomas Anderson has cited Ophuls as being among his most vital inspirations in his own career. With that said, look at this visual example of when you can literally…
The previous four Ophul's I'd seen all made 100 best list so I was expecting great things here and got them without ever quite feeling I needed to go throw anything off that list to make way for it.
On the face of it it's a triptych of stories but one of them is four times as long as the others and totally dominates emotionally. A tale of a brothel full of prostitutes going to the country to watch a girls first communion makes the most of it's collision of worldliness and innocence and is as you would expect beautifully shot. Icons like Danielle Darieux and Jean Gabin add to the weight of the sequence and Ophuls manages the hard…
The New Years Resolutions - Film #38
Ophüls roaming camera dances with the profound, constantly forcing us look past the gorgeous surfaces in which he provides to understand the deep-seated melancholy at their core. Every single story here explores the ways in which love, youth and joy can leave us feeling trapped; happiness is always just out of reach in Ophüls artificial world, and despite his characters best efforts, their tragedy feels fated.
Wonderfully observed filmmaking, and much, much better than A Letter From an Unknown Woman.
The charm and grace of Ophüls's cinema can be seen and felt in every frame of Le Plaisir, a film so full of majestic and somehow yet understated camera work and great performances from so many legends of the French cinema. I especially would like to mention that wonderful scene at the church, a touching moment that reminded me of Cabiria's visit to the local shrine where she seeks the Madonna's intercession.
Wonderfully nostalgic look at a sophisticated civilisation long gone, a technical masterclass in its dizzying roving camera and an aesthetically beautiful film with some hard and profound emotional truths - in other words, Ophuls gonna Ophuls. Where this film does falter, however, is in its bungling of the anthology film format - the fact that the first story gets 15 minutes, the second an hour and the last 15 minutes already speaks volumes, and there's a feeling of unbalancedness throughout - the latter section feels rushed, and the middle bloated and occasionally lagging. All have moments of brilliance in them, but the first section on its own merits is like a 5 star short film, absolutely brilliant and very affecting - the following material only occasionally gets close to that level again, but overall it's a pretty great but uneven package.
Guy de Maupassant, burdel y Rosa
- He found love, glory and fortune. Isn't that happiness?
- Still it's very sad.
- But, my friend, there's no joy in happiness.
As tightly structured as any Ophuls, LE PLAISIR retains the director's familiar symmetry, taking it to a new level here by giving the second segment a structure mirroring that of the larger film, bookending a sustained stretch of freedom with confinement. Each segment begins and ends in the same location, giving the arcs a sense of stasis that exists in pleasing tension with the constant motion of Ophuls's camera. Both defying and affirming this sense of stasis is the arc of gradual female empowerment across the three segments, going from willing confinement to the house, to self-liberation from the house and then a willing return, to being responsible for confining another; as much as this plays as progress, though, it…
Max Ophüls was an old world European at heart; films with settings in contemporary times didn’t seem to interest him at much, which would explain the late resurgence of his career in France. Le Plaisir is a love letter to this world that he wished he were still a part of and stands as among his most beautiful films. While it features some of the most remarkable extended takes in the history of the medium, the film is equally successful for its peerless production design and sense of movement.
Bookended by two shorter vignettes, the second chapter of the film is the highlight and brings to the mind the best work of Renoir and Gabin years earlier. Gabin plays Joseph,…
Anthology film with adaptations of three stories by Guy de Maupassant (Le Masque, La Maison Tellier and Le Modèle).
Max Ophüls' cinematic virtuosity is well on display in this work, the stories themselves, however, are of differing depth - and interest.
A few years ago, I stumbled upon the work of Guy de Maupassant. He, along with Ayn Rand and Franz Kafka, remains one of my favorite writers. I wasn't aware of the fact that Le plaisir was based off of de Maupassant's work until right before seeing it. I absolutely adore the Ophuls films I've seen, and knew this was going to be a special experience.
After loving the last two Ophuls I watched this one was a bit of a letdown. It's not that it was bad or boring or anything like that, it just didn't have any sort of punch to it the way his other film's have. For whatever reason it reminded me of Luis Bunuel.
This movie was a total pleasure.
Every film that has ever been nominated for an Academy Award in any category. Enjoy!
A list of all films associated with the Criterion Collection, including laserdiscs, DVDs, Blu-rays, Essential Arthouse, Eclipse Series, Hulu Plus,…