The Young Girls of Rochefort
(Les demoiselles de Rochefort)
Recommended for ages 12 & up
Catherine Deneuve, Françoise Dorléac, Michel Piccoli, Gene Kelly,
See it large: this dance musical by Varda’s husband, Jacques Demy, is as antithetical to the small screen as West Side Story, whose choreography it emulates and whose star George Chakiris improbably appears here—along with Gene Kelly, Mr. American in Paris himself. In the sleepy town of Rochefort, denizens who somnolently dance sidewise down the street are energized by the arrival of a traveling commercial fair that passes for spectacle. Catherine Deneuve and her talented sister Françoise Dorléac play musical twin sisters who while away the hours in their Barbie-doll outfits until they can hitch a ride to love and fame. In Demy’s clever patter set to Michel Legrand’s music, their barista mother Danielle Darrieux dreams of a love lost to the silliness of the French language, and everyone around her pines, in rhyme, for a poetic ideal. Billed as a paean to American musicals, The Young Girls of Rochefort is vintage French: sugary surface, just a hint of the grotesque, and legs.