Le Plaisir (Ophuls, 1952)

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Watching back to back Ophuls is like having a bit too much champagne – the costumes, the tapestries, the elegant glances begin to overwhelm the senses and go right to your head. In this regard, maybe I should have waited for the glorious high of La Ronde to pass before sitting down with Le Plaisir, because the many obvious pleasures of  the latter seem redundant and flimsy in comparison. Not to say Le Plaisir isn’t a beautiful and entrancing experience, just not that memorable. Ophuls weaves three stories by  Guy du Maupassant into distinct short vignettes, moral lessons on romantic yearning and desire concerned with class, gender, and of course, sex. Yet the very format of the film – disconnected narratives – takes away from the overall impact each story is supposed to relate, separating Ophuls’ themes over various temporal and spatial grounds, diluting them in the process.  Like all Ophuls, tragic love and fate define Le Plaisir, but the subversive undercurrents of The Earrings of Madame de… and La Ronde are noticeably absent.

2 thoughts on “Le Plaisir (Ophuls, 1952)

  1. Hmmmm…. Maybe it’s those subversive undercurrents that I don’t care for? I’ve seen Madam D twice now and just feel it’s one of the most over-rated of films. However, Le Plasir seems to me the opposite: a movie that succeeds almost perfectly in all that it attempts. Have not seen La Ronde in a long while (except for the surprisingly not-bad Vadim version), so clearly it is time for a look at that one again.

  2. Jim, La Ronde is definitely worth a look. It’s funny because think we all have those films that are universally loved and we wonder why…mine happens to be Sansho the Bailiff. Go figure.

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