Jacques Demy's wondrous debut film was an epiphany of poetic (neo)realism for the sixties: romantic cynicism in the tradition of René Clair and Max Ophuls, worked into a modern objectivity. In telling of a nightclub dancer (Anouk Aimée) who waits, against all odds or logic, for the return of the lover who left her with a child seven years earlier, it has a fairytale quality in which past and present crystallize into one emotion. Coincidence and repetition work as a kind of eternal return as characters from Lola's past appear in the present, in new form, while retaining their past selves completely. There is the little girl in love with the American sailor, and the American sailor in love with Lola; there is the white-suited lover in a Cadillac that fills the wide screen and finally spirals off into Lola's future. Raoul Coutard's sun-struck camerawork reveals Nantes as even Demy, a native, might not have known it, etching sadness all around Lola and her improbable universe.

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