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Model Shop

Screening on Film
Directed by Jacques Demy.
With Anouk Aimée, Gary Lockwood, Alexandra Hay.
France/US, 1968, 35mm, color, 92 min.
Print source: Sony Pictures

Equating the seizure of one’s car with death, Model Shop is the ultimate Los Angeles driving narrative, a film that scales the destiny of a man to the fate of his automobile. George Matthews is a jaded architecture graduate slumming around the city of angels on what will likely be his last tank of gas before a stint in Vietnam, his halfhearted mission being the collection of enough funds to pay off the fast-approaching repossession of his convertible. Demy’s first American effort conjures a rich sense of the Californian social life that his desperate outsider is both repelled by and drawn to, its vision of the city’s “pure poetry” concentrated through a series of driving shots every bit as geographically faithful as those in Vertigo’s San Francisco. Thick with Bach-scored melancholy, Model Shop points forward to the existential gloom of Five Easy Pieces even as it refers back to Demy’s own filmography via the resonant reappearance of Lola’s titular French beauty, now a heartbroken castaway challenging George’s limited perspective.

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