Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, August 24, 2017


Two couples of very different sorts: Irons, Muni, Delon, Baby
SWANN IN LOVE (1984). Director: Volker Schlondorff.

Charles Swann (Jeremy Irons of The Pink Panther 2) develops an all-consuming passion for a former courtesan named Odette (Ornella Muti of Flash Gordon), and is warned by friends that it could ruin his sterling reputation if he ever marries her. Meanwhile his close friend, the Baron de Charlus (Alain Delon of The Leopard) conducts (fairly) discreet affairs with a variety of men. Charles becomes obsessed with the idea that Odette has been with women (an experience for her that he would be cut off from), as he's obviously nothing like the 21st century men who might find it a turn-on if their girlfriends fooled around with other women. Swann in Love is taken from sections of Marcel Proust's many-volumed novel, In Search of Lost Time (aka Remembrance of Things Past) , especially part of the first volume (Swann's Way) and jumbles things around while still dealing with many of Proust's fascinating themes. As for Odette's possible lesbian past, Swann's search for the truth almost unfolds as a mystery, but then is dropped as Swann temporarily comes to the conclusion that Odette is not really his type. Other characters include the Duchesse de Geurmantes (Fanny Ardent), who hopes to snare Charles for herself, and Madame Verdurin (Marie-Christine Barrault), an alleged patroness of the arts whom Charles thinks is practically a procuress for Odette. We also briefly meet a young Jewish man (Nicolas Baby) who angers the baron when he rejects his pass in a coach. The performances are all good, the Parisian settings and atmosphere are impeccable, and the movie is reasonably entertaining, but ultimately it just adds up to a collection of scenes instead of a really good movie. One of the best of these scenes has the Baron mounting a staircase, staring at and flirting with all of the male attendants along the way, while Charles seems clueless. Although Delon is a bit foppish as the baron, at least he doesn't mince it up too much.

Verdict: Others have said that it would be nearly impossible to capture Proust's prose for the screen and they're probably right. **1/2.


angelman66 said...

Agreed, Proust is hard enough on paper, let alone film, but this looks like it will be worth it, just for the cast. My all-time favorite Jeremy Irons is as Claus von Bulow in Reversal of Fortune...and Alain Delon, again? Bring it on!

William said...

Yes, it's very amusing to watch Delon checking out all the handsome male attendants as he climbs the staircase. And imagine someone rejecting him!

Saw "Reversal of Fortune" in the theater years ago and I'm glad you reminded me of it. I'll look for it.