The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)

umbrellas of cherbourg poster 1964 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great musical that feels light but is pretty dark


Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

Studio:  Parc Film/Madeleine Films/Beta Film

Genre(s):  Musical/Romance/Drama

Release Date(s):  February 3, 1964 (Stockholm French Film Festival)/February 19, 1964 (France)/December 16, 1964 (US)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

umbrellas of cherbourg guy genevieve catherine deneuve nino castelnuovo

We’re young and in love…nothing can ever break us up!

Geneviève Émery (Catherine Deneuve) and Guy Foucher (Nino Castelnuovo) are young and in love.  Geneviève’s mother Madame Émery (Anne Vernon) and Geneviève run a failing umbrella shop and Geneviève’s mother thinks Guy is below Geneviève.  When Guy is called up for active duty, and Geneviève finds herself in personal and financial trouble with a rich suitor named Roland Cassard (Marc Michel), decisions must be made…can Guy and Geneviève love survive?

Written and directed by Jacques Demy, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Les Parapluies de Cherbourg) is a musical romance.  The film received Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film in at the 37th Academy Awards but also received nominations for Best Writing Story and Screenplay—Written directly for the Screen, Best Original Song (“I Will Wait for You”), Best Original Music Score, and Best Music Scoring of Music, Adaptation, or Treatment at the 38th Academy Awards.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #716) and it was also included as part of The Essential Jacques Demy.

I hadn’t seen any of Jacques Demy’s films and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg was my introduction to his films.  The musical is a non-traditional musical with all the dialogue sung (in the style of an opera) and presents a great romance but also a tragic romance.  Due to aspects of the story, a ******spoiler alert****** is in effect for the rest of the review.

umbrella cherbourg catherine deneuve anne vernon shop

I want you to be well off and miserable, honey

The movie is kept oddly light due to the music, but the story is kind of heavy.  The characters are young and optimistic.  They love each other unconditionally and seem genuinely happy.  They are carefree and full of joy…and life comes crashing down on them.  Doubt, outside forces, and finances factor in and make them realize that their love is superficial…and they both choose to move on.  Neither Guy or Geneviève are totally unhappy with the lives they choose and the families they have…but it isn’t that free love and passion they had for each other.

The cast is great.  Catherine Deneuve is young and beautiful in one of her early big roles and she has an innocence to her, but she is also able to pull off the coldness she needs for the last scene.  Nino Castelnuovo is a good match for her in that he can pull off the music while still looking like a mechanic.  Anne Vernon is nice as Madame Émery who has given up her own dreams and wants even better for her daughter…even if it costs her.  Marc Michel previously appeared in the loosely tied Lola as the same character and references his appearance in that film.

umbrellas of cherbourg ending christmas genevieve catherine deneuve

…well at least we had umbrellas

The movie also looks fantastic with its bright and shiny nature (especially at the beginning when love is in bloom) and its colder look at the end when spring becomes winter in the lives of the character.  The music gives the film an airiness that contrasts the fact that film is kind of downer.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is a great musical that feels extremely modern in appearance.  Damien Chazelle based his tone and feel of La La Land on the film, and it is easy to see its influence on that film.  It is the type of film that inspires you to seek out more movies by Demy…and makes you want to visit the store’s real location in Cherbourg.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response