Tuesday, September 23, 2008


"Darling" (John Schlesinger, 1965) Posh, swinging 60's version of a rags-to-riches story with a Chekhovian twist, it could be subtitled "Days of Cabiria," it's such an antithesis to Fellini's film about the travails of a "well-known night-bird." Diana Scott (Julie Christie, in her Oscar-winning performance) goes from vaguely dissatisfied London wife to jet-setting model/princess using a series of men as if they were rungs on the ladder. Dirk Bogarde plays a BBC journalist with whom she has her first affair that shatters her marriage ("Isn't it a shame that it's so hard to be happy?" she intones at one point) Then, when things start to get a bit perfunctory she becomes a plaything with a jaded playboy (Laurence Harvey, barely expressive). Soon, the sense of been there-done that completely eclipses her enjoyment of every current situation, and as she's completely incapable of being self-aware ("Is that really me?" she says in shock when a party-goer imitates her) that it's not simply a matter of imagining the grass in greener on the other side of the fence, so much as vaulting the fence and rolling in it for awhile.

It brings to mind the story
Richard Harris told on "The Tonight Show" of driving home in Ireland after an extended pub-crawl and falling asleep at a stop-light. He was awakened with a tap at his window, and the driver behind him asked quietly, but pointedly, "Exactly what shade of green are ye waitin' fer?"

"Darling" is an artifact of the 60's, and has not aged well, although one can see its spawn every day in the natter-columns. Schlesinger's direction is not nearly so mannered as he could be, and Frederick Raphael's screenplay is at its best when no one's talking. But it is interesting, at least, as a cultural bell-weather to see what Madame Bovary's "cup of tea" is "in this day and age."

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