Synopsis by Eleanor Mannikka
In the style of an operetta, like director Jacques Demy's more famous film the Umbrellas of Cherbourg, this melodramatic story is set in Nantes in 1955 and centers around the tragedies of three or four intertwined lives. First, there is the young steel worker (Richard Berry) who is out on strike and has rented a room from an upper-class widow (Danielle Darrieux), a woman in sympathy with the strikers. The blue-collar worker has a girlfriend he finds less and less interesting just as she is more and more pregnant, and their relationship seems fated to end, one way or another. Then there is Edith (Dominique Sanda), the daughter of the widow, married to a wealthy, impotent, skinflint of a merchant caught up in his own neuroses, and, whether for that reason or several others, Edith is a part-time hooker. One evening she shows up in the worker's rented room, wearing a fur coat and nothing else -- and the two share a night of passion. Now mother, daughter, the worker, and the daughter's husband have formed a very unstable chain of relationships, due to snap because at least one link is exceedingly weak. Enhanced by excellent choreography, this film still did poorly at the box office when it was first released. In order to save it and encourage audiences to see it for its own merits, 76 French critics took out an ad in Le Monde to promote the film, and some critics said that if this movie failed, so would all of French cinema. Perhaps it is not surprising then that Chambre En Ville won the French Critics' Prix Méliès in 1982.
blue-collar, daughter, pregnancy, prostitute/prostitution, steelworker, widow/widower, girlfriend, labor-issues