Lola (1961)

It's easy to underestimate the power of "Lola" by tuning out in the first five minutes. You could be lethargic about the piece, nonchalant—oh great, another new wave French cinema film...yay! Yet the sarcastic barbs which might seem appropriate hardly do the picture justice because what the film is so deadly clever with is keeping you engaged with its's much more than just its own sub-genre.
What is fascinating about "Lola" is how the narrative jumps from one character to the other, as if being passed off like a baton in a relay race. It makes full circles many times, tagging one character after the other. Yet the construct of the plot is nothing if not the predecessor to Tarantino's work, because everyone somehow touches everyone. This isn't a "Crash" story or "Disconnect"—it's much more like "Pulp Fiction".
Beginning with a white convertible driving along the road, we quickly are thrown from character to character until the camera settles down on Roland Cassard (Marc Michel). This is our everyday hero. He is late for work and stops by a cafe to talk to the waitress there who scolds him for being lazy. It's not that he doesn't like his job, he's just getting tired of it all. He doesn't like the rat-race, he's done it for too long to be interested in it.
To borrow a line from Peter Jackson: he needs a vacation.
While Roland struggles with what his life is all about, we have other characters' woes tossed at us. There is a mother whose son she believes is back in town, a sailor who is in love with a cabaret dancer, the cabaret dancer and her son, and a single mother and her daughter.
How these lives touch each other is not the sole reason to watch the's more than just a puzzle-box. "Lola" manages to create intense emotions for each character.
There is a sense of longing unfulfilled that the picture has that makes its viewer empathize and uncomfortable. It's the kind of movie that makes you question what you're doing in life...while it may not be pleasant, it's certainly effective.
A group of sailors from America often frequent the cabaret and one of the men named Frankie (Alan Scott) has taken a liking to our title character, Lola (Anouk Aimée), Lola is a woman who seems content with life so far. She is also longing for something, for her first love to return to her and sweep her off her feet.
The writer and director Jacques Demy seems to be asking his audience about complacence and the need for change. Why are we discontent when our lives could be happier with the tools we have right in front of our faces? Why must we search for an intrinsic piece of joy when its looking us in the face?
The ending of "Lola" may turn some audience members sour, but how else could it have ended?
"Lola" is a masterfully constructed piece, one that remains surprisingly entertaining.
Lola herself is not a great main character, partially because she's not the main character. Roland, on the other hand, is very likable...very relatable.
The film itself is a fast-paced wonder-work. It's amazing the amount of complexity within the relatively simplistic story. Simple lines of dialogue reveal worlds of thought beneath the film.
Demy's debut feature film is stunning.

Score: ★★★★

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