Three Seats for the 26th
(Trois places pour le 26)

Directed by Jacques Demy.
With With Yves Montand, Mathilda May, Françoise Fabian.
France, 1988, DCP, color, 106 min.
French and English with English subtitles.

With its lengthy scenes of theater rehearsal that start to look indistinguishable from the vibrant world off stage, Three Seats for the 26th plays like a spiritual precursor to the late-career work of Alain Resnais. Demy’s last entry into his beloved musical genre treats the boundary between life and theater as a flimsy one, perhaps even suggesting dramatic performance to be closer to life because of its distillation of unspoken truths present in daily existence. Here, the defining withheld truth has to do with the nature of the relationship between Yves Montand (playing himself), one of his young female admirers, and her mother, which gradually comes into focus as the film nears its startling conclusion. Demy’s use of the camera as an expressionistic compass to his character’s core passions had long since developed into a fully formed trademark at this late stage of his career, and Three Seats offers ample evidence of this cinematographic mastery even as the cheery radiance of the images is called into question by the problematic implications of the narrative.

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Once Upon a Song... Jacques Demy

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