Fanny ★★★★½

For about the first 15 or so minutes of the film, I was concerned this would be a dreadful Hollywood adaptation of the famous Marcel Pagnol trilogy: the waterfront characters were quaint, broadly drawn and overly sentimental.  But the film gradually deepened into a very sad love story touching on universal themes of sacrifice, loss and selfishness, and the complicated bonds between parents and children.  It was touching and humorous, often at the same time.  So it won me over.

I have yet to watch the Pagnol trilogy (although now I want to), nor was I familiar with the Broadway musical adaptation that the film is based on.  But it’s a story of separated lovers and the compromises that people make in their lives.  It actually has a lot in common with Demy’s “Umbrellas of Cherbourg”. The two lovers are played by Leslie Caron (a replacement for the original choice Audrey Hepburn) and a strikingly handsome young Horst Bucholz.  Charles Boyer and Maurice Chevalier play important secondary characters and are wonderful in their respective parts.  And the many character actors completing the cast are exemplary.  The score is apparently based on the songs from the Broadway musical, and are lushly romantic.  I found myself captivated and touched by the story.  A worthwhile film, and available to stream on the Criterion Channel.