By Megan Bianco
Just by sheer coincidence, this past month I happened to not only catch Claire Denis’ new movie Let the Sunshine In, but also Chloe in the Afternoon (1972) for the first time and The Seven Year Itch (1955) while completely skipping Book Club on its opening weekend.
All four movies have characters over the age of 30 either separated from long-term relationships or on the verge of an existential crisis after years of living in a marriage. Granted, I didn’t see Book Club because, God help me if I actually support anything related to Fifty Shades of Grey. But my grandmother, who has been single since 1980, thought it was great despite the average 50 percent ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and MetaCritic.
Let the Sunshine In was underwhelming, despite Denis’ statue as one of the best working female filmmakers for the past 30 years. I remember watching Chocolate (1988) for two different film classes in college. But with the latest on her resume we get an hour and a half of Juliette Binoche sulking over the fact that she can’t enjoy sex anymore, and can’t find love either. It should be intriguing enough to work, but the characters are just too uninteresting and self-centered for us to care.
Chloe in the Afternoon is another French film, this time from auteur Éric Rohmer, starring singer-actress Zouzou and real-life married couple Bernard and Françoise Verley. After a decade together, a Paris family lawyer and family man feels tempted to cheat with every beautiful woman he meets, especially an older, attractive female friend who has returned to town. Sound kind of familiar? It’s like The Seven Year Itch, but more artsy, dramatic and French. The dreamlike qualities of the temptation scenes are even more philosophical.
The Seven Year Itch is of course considered a classic. It’s filmmaking legend Billy Wilder with Tom Ewell and Marilyn Monroe in her most iconic costumes. It’s funny, Ewell is hilarious, Monroe her usual charming self and it has one of those timeless storylines. A 40-something ad man with a wife and little boy at home is suddenly feeling an itch to look around seven years into the marriage. Although if one thing has become very dated, it’s the concept that the mother and child leave the father alone and travel out of town for the whole summer season.
Sadly out of these four films, the ones with the male leads are objectively the best by general consensus. Maybe I just need to dig deeper into the genre. Maybe I’ve just watched too many affairs on screen lately. Whatever it is, I’m glad I currently don’t have this moral dilemma and just live with a cat.
Megan Bianco is a Southern California-based movie reviewer and content writer with a degree from California State University Northridge.
>> Subscribe to Times of San Diego’s free daily email newsletter! Click hereFollow Us: