So, one thing I want to get out of the way first. I watched this while in a giant soaker tub in Philly. Full disclosure: This may impact my feelings about this film.
I decided to watch this film after listening to one of the newest episodes of the Jean and Jane season of You Must Remember This. My choice was between Breathless, Bonjour Tristesse, and Five Day Lover; the latter won out. After watching the film and brushing up on my French, here are my takeaways.
Jean Seberg is great in the role of Claire and does a fantastic job showing the duality of her role as the loving housewife and mother and the life of a mistress. Jean Pierre Cassel who plays Antoine, while not what I would conventionally describe as the Hollywood leading man type, is a dream to watch and makes you fall in love with his charm. The scene where he tells Claire, “This sweater is too much. Madam, your own skin is what suits you best”, literally makes you melt along with Claire’s bulky sweater onto the floor.
This sweater is too much. Madam, your own skin is what suits you best
The music in this film, particularly the song sung by the two actors about La Seine river, is magical. It’s sung with the backdrop of a full serenade on the bow of a cruise ship on a French river in the dead of night. The two characters slow dance with each other after blowing an exorbitant amount of money, made from a night betting at the horse races, on a decadent meal. Who doesn’t dream of throwing wads of cash in the air at a restaurant demanding every dish known to man?
While there are some genuinely magical scenes, there are also some lulls during the film. Specifically during what should be a build up to a very tense confrontation between Claire, her husband Georges, Antoine, and their mutual friend, Madeleine, who has had Antoine as her gigolo. The scene, which should be the climax of the film, ends in a bit of a fizzle. In the end, it feels like there’s not much payoff for the long journey these lovers take you on. 95 minutes can feel like hours.
Overall, I’d recommend watching this film specifically if you find yourself in a giant soaker tub and have some time to kill. It’s decadent and salacious and makes you feel rather adventurous and sexy yourself. The film has been recently restored to 2k so it’s a dream to look at. You’ll find yourself humming the La Seine number to yourself all of the following day.