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Bay of Angels  
Jacques Demy
1962 || 85 mins

Bored with his life as a bank cashier, Jean Fournier (Claude Mann) goes out gambling one night with his friend Caron (Paul Guers), and finds it an exhilarating experience. After arguing with his father, he takes off for the Riviera where he continues to chance his luck at the roulette tables. He doesn’t do too badly at first, playing a cautious game, and winning more than most. Then he meets Jackie (Jeanne Moreau), a peroxide blonde who has abandoned her husband and young child for the attractions of the casinos. Jean falls helplessly under Jackie’s spell and soon finds his life spinning dangerously out of control.

Jacques Demy’s follow up to Lola (1961), is a more conventional film than its predecessor, though unmistakeably New Wave in its style and approach. Shot on location in Monte Carlo and Nice, the dark subject matter is alleviated by Jean Rabier’s dazzling black and white cinematography and Michel Legrand’s stirring score. Demy’s expressionistic use of location is here expressed through contrasting imagery, which echoes the alternating moods of elation and despondency that follow the outcome of a spin of the ball.

At its heart, La Baie Des Anges, is a film about seduction. Jean is first seduced by the glamour and easy life promised by the casinos, and then by the hedonistic thrills offered by Jackie. However, Demy does not flinch from showing the desperate reality beneath the charming surface. Jackie, brilliantly portrayed by Moreau, is self-centred and addicted to risk, unconcerned about using other people to keep her illusory life going. Her future appears hopeless until the final moments when an abrupt change of heart offers hope of redemption.

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