Romance with such a simple premise seems to be a variable of the light-hearted French films that linger around the decade of peace, love, and understanding. Director Jacques Demy’s musical comedy, The Young Girls of Rochefort, finds itself playing up to the colourful, vibrant whimsy of dulcet costumes and creative direction. Two sisters living in the beautiful city of Rochefort find themselves looking for the ideal partner, and through a series of musical numbers, odd little titbits of charm, and a marginally simplistic story, they do just that. There’s simply no reason to explain your life to a stranger through meandering dialogue when you can have an orchestra swoon your words away on a wave of French charm, and The Young Girls of Rochefort knows that far too well.
Musicals live or die on the complexities of their performances and the style of their music. The Young Girls of Rochefort offers up jazzy spectacles, intense dance that feels fluid and wholly enjoyable, without all that much in the way of story. Simple as it may be, it does take a short while for us to get our heads in the game, and after that it becomes a technical spectacle, rather than one that can rely on narrative strengths. I wasn’t completely blown away by The Young Girls of Rochefort, and even expecting such a simple story can’t masquerade a rather overwhelming disappointment in how straightforward a narrative we’re presented. An abundance of potential bachelor’s mull around the screen from time to time, but none are unique except for the costumes they find themselves thrust into.
The choreography of the dance moves and the colourful direction of Demy go hand in hand, a fabulously bright piece of film. Its charm is undeniable, impossible to ignore, and it’s rather easy to be taken away on a wave of incredibly comfortable cinema. Demy’s work here is such a beauty to behold, the set design is instrumental in how well this one goes over with potential fans. Nice little nods in the background, plenty of detail to pick up on, it’s rather strange that there’s more focus in the little nods and touches than there is in the focal, melodramatic story.
Demy’s work here is superb, a real treat for the eyes and ears as we make our way through a simplistic story that oozes charm from every corner. Rather light on substance, as we sing and dance our way through the streets of Rochefort, an eclectic cast make for some enjoyable, but rather forgettable moments. I enjoyed my time with The Young Girls of Rochefort, but I can’t say I’ll be running back to this one anytime soon, even if Gene Kelly springs his way through the brightly coloured avenues Rochefort has to offer.