Stanley Donen directs Audrey Hepburn, Albert Finney and Eleanor Bron in this romantic comedy about a married couple who reflect on their twelve-year relationship while on various road trips down to the French Riviera.
The year the Production Code began its swift erosion allowed this project – which looked to make a slightly more philosophical take on infidelity and divorce – to be realised without its hand being tied. The concept is strong, especially the fractured timelines changing lanes and swapping rides en route. Yet it feels fusty by default. The progeny of a director past his prime trying to take advantage of cutting edge trends and hip stars that don’t gel. You’ll never find me saying a bad word about Hepburn… but her pre-existing persona is a little too fragile for us to gain much pleasure from seeing her in a failing relationship. And Finney is very abrasive towards her and the whole idea. Somebody with a lighter comic touch (Cary, Caine, Garner?) would work a treat, even when calling Audrey a “bitch”!? This actually proves quite unpleasant to watch at times despite always looking a sunny marvel.
Perfect Double Bill: Paris When It Sizzles (1964)
I write regular features about live comedy for British Comedy Guide here https://www.comedy.co.uk/people/bobby_carroll/features/