Sunday, August 22, 2010

Not all jewels are made equal

The Earrings of Madame de... (SPOILERS)

A warning to all you spoiled, beautiful, rich, adored ladies and gentlemen out there who think life is a walk in the park: Bad things can happen in a park!

Madame de.. (The character. I'll call her Madame from now on) has an expression on her face that shows she never had to worry about anything in her life. She is everything I described in the above paragraph and the only problem in her life at the beginning of the movie is that she has to sell something to deal with a debt her "hungry for buying stuff" self created. Her lies will make her pay much more later.

So, she chooses her least favorite item. A pair of earrings her husband bought her on the second (I think) day of their marriage. The earrings are diamond ones but so what? She has things she loves more. Only things.

I actually have no idea why I'm wasting time with describing the plot since this post is for people who've seen it but anyway.

Nothing in the lightness of the first 10 seconds prepares you for the tragedy in the last 10 seconds (don't take the numbers literally). The woman we meet is nothing like the woman we say goodbye to at the end. What changed her? The earrings changed and that change was passed to her. At first, they didn't matter just like nothing really mattered for Madame. But at some point the earrings got a meaning and Madame found a meaning too. OK, OK I'll remind you. She fell in love. Yes, the old divine and possibly catastrophic little thing called Love.

But her husband just didn't want to make it easy for her. Not that his actions were pure nastiness. It's not cute to feel like you are totally insignificant to the person you're married to. Not that he was in love. Still, give him a break. Weren't you ever a bit annoyed when one of your friends started paying less attention to you because of a new boyfriend/girlfriend?

I don't really like the idea of religion but at least it gives movies more possibilities. For instance, I really liked the contrast between the two "pray at church" scenes. At the first one, she acts as if she were watering her plants. She didn't care about the fact that she was supposedly talking to the mother of Jesus. At the second one, however, not only was she begging for a favour, she went on to offer the most important item she possessed in order to save the most important person in her life.

The earrings made me think of things in my life (a street, a square, a song, a phrase etc) that for many years were just what they were but because of some events, they later felt like keys for the doors of my memories and feelings.

If I have a problem with the movie, is its simplicity. I'm not sure about my feelings but I think it's too safely made. That doesn't mean that it's not powerful, moving and beautiful. Charles Boyer was excellent and Danielle Darrieux amazing.

I admit that I don't get the title. Does it mean that we don't know who she is, whose she is or something else?



  1. Wow, you've been watching a lot of stuff I really adore! And that sense of Madame...'s palpable transformation, even though it's hard to pin down just when or why it happens, is a huge part of why I love the movie so much. That, and all those long, elegant tracking shots and the shimmery, silvery surface of the movie which dares YOU to treat it as a kind of expensive bauble. And then the same thing happens to the movie as happens to the earrings: it somehow turns into a spiritual object.

    Thanks for posting this!

  2. Not a coincidence as you probably guessed. I've been spending much (too much?) time going through your archives and your lists and whatnot. It's funny how in many cases I didn't even bother with the plot. An "A" from Nick? It's worth my time!

    I was afraid that I didn't really say anything other than the obvious so I'm glad your comment kind of works as an epilogue of more depth than the rest of my review/analysis. And you have no idea how happy I would have been even if you had just stopped by to say something much less insightful :)