Bay of the Angels (1962)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Drama, Romantic Drama  |   Run Time - 80 min.  |   Countries - France   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

While Bay of Angels is not one of Jacques Demy's top-tier films, it nevertheless has a charm and appeal that make it well worth watching. An examination of obsession, and specifically of an obsession with gambling, Angels recreates for the audience the extremes that come with this obsession: it recreates the rush of winning as well as the crush and despair of losing, illuminating how that despair can be sublimated and denied but percolates beneath the surface nonetheless. Demy's screenplay is insightful to a point, but it falls short of providing the depth it desires. But Demy's direction makes up for this shortfall, and the seemingly abrupt way in which he brings about the ending is a masterful stroke. Demy is greatly aided by the incomparable Jeanne Moreau, whose commanding, enticing, totally captivating performance is the primary reason that Angels must be seen. She dominates the film with a mesmerizing turn. In contrast, Claude Mann is totally out of his element here. An attractive man, he has little charisma and his dramatic talents are wan. Moreau wipes the floor with him, and this seriously unbalances the film. The production looks very good, with atmospheric black-and-white lensing by Jean Rabier, and Michel Legrand's dramatic score also earns points.