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Yesterday was a bit of a rough day.

I opened my eyes at 7 AM to find that the sky was once again totally gray. I went back to sleep. When I woke up an hour later, the sky was still gray. I figured it wasn’t going to change, so I got up. I showered, checked my e-mail, read all of my blogs, did the Times crossword puzzle, made lunch, and went grocery shopping. Very productive morning.

Then I decided, since I’m utterly sick of my recital repertoire, I would jump back into Mozart-learning. I sat down at the piano and opened my Nozze di Figaro score, at which point I all of a sudden realized that if I didn’t go take a nap right that second, I was going to fall asleep at the piano. So I got into bed, turned on my space heater, pulled the covers over my head and pretended to sleep for an hour.

After that, I realized that trying to learn opera when you’re in a completely ambivalent mind-space about opera is probably not the best way to go. So I bucked myself up, had a cup of coffee, and took myself to the movies.

To a French movie. In French. No subtitles. From 1949. Of which there are no videos, so here’s Judi Dench being fabulous in the play of the same name. (The movie title was of course in French: Occupe-toi d’Amélie!)

As far as I managed to figure it out, the plot is like this. Amélie is pretty much, as Sam Seaborn would put it, a high-priced call-girl. Her lover’s name is Étienne. But there’s this other guy, Marcel, Étienne’s best friend, whose rich American uncle wants to give him 12,000 francs on the occasion of his wedding. Since he is a playboy with no intention of marrying, he hatches a plan to fake-marry Amélie to get the money. There’s a lot of to-do with Amélie’s father and a general and a prince with ridiculous facial hair–honestly, most of the movie consists of men running in and out of Amélie’s apartment and trying not to get caught doing less-than-honorable things. Anyway, Marcel and Amélie accidentally spend the night together (though neither of them can remember the exact sequence of events: “Hier soir, est-ce qu’on a, ou est-ce qu’on n’a pas?!”), after which they get fake-married by a fake mayor, who turns out to be the real mayor, which means that they’re really married, but Amélie signed her real name to the register after giving a false one, so they’re not really married…but it transpires that Amélie has fallen in love with Marcel, and in the end the two of them take the uncle’s 12,000 franc check and go on their merry unmarried way to Venice for their lune de miel–honeymoon. But they’re not married. And then there’s a weird side plot where it turns out that the whole thing is just a play, and at the end it’s a couple of audience members who jump into the action and point out that the marriage didn’t really happen.

I have a feeling that I would do better comprehension-wise with a current French movie, since I don’t speak Feydeau (the only scene I was absolutely certain of understanding was the one where Marcel had to figure out how much his apartment would cost per day if it cost 1800 francs per year–it was all numbers!). And everybody, especially the men, spoke incredibly loudly and quickly and at certain points I just wished they would all shut up so that we could concentrate on how fabulous Danielle Darrieux is. I mean, SO fabulous.

Before this movie, I only knew her from 8 Femmes, in which she was 85 years old. (She’s still alive and making movies, by the way.)

But in 1949, she looked like this (in wedding drag for Amélie):

She did her fair share of running around like a crazy person and shouting, but she also had a few breathtakingly honest moments. She played the coquette with intelligence and wit, and throughout all of the absurdity, she managed to be a real, believable character. Hats off, Ms. Darrieux!

Also, she has a gorgeous singing voice (and still at 85, though I couldn’t embed that video!).



So I felt a bit better after the movie (and a Pierre Oteiza ham sandwich, because what’s the point of going to the movies near St. Michel if you can’t get a Pierre Oteiza ham sandwich for dinner afterwards?). I came home, showered again, put on a dress and heels and earrings and went down to the salon for our final recital runthrough…which could have been better. I’m looking forward to a little adrenaline on Saturday night.

Bisous,
Anne

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