Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Criterion on FilmStruck: Bay of Angels (1963)

Bay of Angels movie poster
Bay of Angels (1963) - Written and Directed by Jacques Demy; Starring Jeanne Moreau, Claude Mann, Paul Guers.

By Kenny Howell

Jacques Demy weaves a simple tale of gambling addiction, and a love affair that springs out of it in Bay of Angels.

Jean is a banker bored with his dreadful work existence, going in and punching the clock at the bank where he works, then just doing the same thing over again the next day.

His work buddy turns him on to gambling at one of the local casinos, and Jean sees a way out. Unlike his friend, he is able to control himself, at least to some extent, and he seems to have a knack for roulette.

Jean tells his father he is going to start gambling, and his father replies with that he needs to find somewhere else to live if he decides to follow that path. Full of young bravado, Jean tells him basically to screw off, and heads to make it big in the casinos.

There he runs into a woman they saw getting kicked out of casino earlier in the film. She is Jackie, played by Jeanne Moreau (Elevator to the Gallows) a married woman that is deeply buried in gambling debts. She wins her way out, blows it on crap, then starts the cycle again. She sees it as a kind of exercise in freedom, but Jean recognizes it as reckless. However, he is enamored by her and quickly falls for her. She pulls him into her world, and soon he is making the same mistakes she does, but mostly because of his addiction to her. The two bounce around from place to place, trying to hit it big, and battling their addictions.

The movie is slick and stylish, as you would expect from Demy (Lola), but it lacks something. Part of it is that it doesn't reach for too much, and the film wraps up kind of suddenly, ending a bit with a thud. Still, Moreau's performance and Demy's style make it worth reaching into the Criterion archives and checking it out.

Bay of Angels is available on FilmStruck as a part of the Criterion collection.

Rating: ***

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