Movie Review: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) tells a familiar story. A young man and woman, auto mechanic Guy (Nino Castelnuovo) and Geneviève (Catherine Deneuve) who works in an umbrella shop, fall madly in love. Guy is drafted into the army and Geneviève discovers she’s pregnant. In Guy’s absence, Geneviève is slowly convinced by her mother (Anne Vernon) to accept the marriage proposal of a wealthy jeweler (Marc Michel). Guy returns and lives a shiftless life of despair until finding love with his late aunt’s caretaker Madeliene (Ellen Farner). What sets this film apart is that all the dialog is sung in a operatic style and set among the gorgeous Technicolor of Cherbourg. While things get a bit corny at times, the film’s conclusion is surprisingly moving.

A fun game to play during the movie is to count how many umbrellas and sailors appear on the screen.  Cherbourg appears to be full of sailors and umbrellas (and sometimes sailors with umbrellas).  If only Guy had joined the Navy instead of the Army, this story may have ended differently.

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