Bay of Angels

Director Jacques Demy’s second feature (after the wonderful Lola) has a blonde Jeanne Moreau dressed all in white and playing Jackie, a compulsive gambler who doesn’t care what happens to her so long as she has a chip to start her on the roulette table. This striking look at obsessional behaviour is one of Demy’s darker films. Jackie is such an irredeemable demimondaine that she lost custody of her only child. I’ve got the feeling I gambled him away, she says in a chillingly matter-of-fact way. The film views Jackie’s no-future desolation through the placid eyes of Jean (Claude Mann), a mild bank clerk whose roulette windfall sends him on a tour of Nice casinos. Of course, once he finds Jackie, his vague plans crystallise into a love story. Jackie casts a spell on Jean, but their relationship slowly turns into a parasite/host showdown. Beautifully filmed inside the casinos and on the sun-drenched promenades of Nice and Monte Carlo, Bay of Angels is conceived as a dazzling symphony in black and white. But for the cascading Michel Legrand piano score, you’re not even aware the movie is a romance until the final tracking shot.
France, 1962. English subtitles. Black and white. Anamorphic. 80 mins.

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