“Who Will Sing Folk Songs?”: The Film Musical in Nine Variations

Demy cuts sweet with acid, love with horror. The audacity of the thing stuns … He injects a peculiar fearlessness, an Olympian smile at the ways of life.”

Donald Lyons, Film Comment

In Une chambre en ville, Jacques Demy’s only fully sung film after The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, a metalworkers strike opens up a space of unmarked time, in which engagements, families, love, and labour all turn from assumptions and requirements to sites of possible change. François (Richard Berry) is one of the thousands of striking workers in Nantes, Demy’s childhood hometown. He finds himself the unexpected nexus of crisscrossing fate for, among others, his long-term amour, his best friend, his landlady, and a woman looking to leave her abusive husband. If Umbrellas tugged apart a picture-perfect image of first love, Demy’s return to the genre strikes a harsher tone—love’s timing is just as unkind, but the sources of pain and sadness are closer to the surface. Demy treats all this material with infinite tenderness, his trust in the expressive potential of colour and colloquial lyricism evident in every scene.

In French with English subtitles

Rapturously romantic … Une chambre en ville survives as a darkly magnificent farewell to Demy’s unique and enchanting world.”

David Melville, Senses of Cinema

It’s hard to think of anything quite like it—Une chambre en villes story, setting, style, and intensity are very different from those of other film musicals … [The film] is more ambitious and more personal than anything else Demy made.”

Geoff Andrew, The Criterion Collection
Media

Upcoming in this Series

  • Hole 2
  • The Hole
  • Taiwan/France1998
  • Tsai Ming-liang
  • 95 35mm
  • NR
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • Une Chambre Un Ville 3
  • Une chambre en ville
  • aka A Room in Town
  • France1982
  • Jacques Demy
  • 93 DCP
  • PG
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • Magical Substance Flows Into Me 1
  • A Magical Substance Flows into Me
  • Palestine/Germany/United Kingdom2016
  • Jumana Manna
  • 66 DCP
  • NR
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • West Indies 1
  • West Indies: The Fugitive Slaves of Liberty
  • West Indies, ou Les nègres marrons de la liberté
  • Algeria/Mauritania/France1979
  • Med Hondo
  • 116 DCP
  • PG
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • Disciple 1
  • The Disciple
  • India2020
  • Chaitanya Tamhane
  • 128 DCP
  • NR
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • Dancer In The Dark 1
  • Dancer in the Dark
  • Denmark/Sweden/France/Iceland2000
  • Lars Von Trier
  • 140 35mm
  • 14A
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • All About Lily Chou Chou 5
  • All About Lily Chou-Chou
  • リリイ・シュシュのすべて
  • Japan2001
  • Iwai Shunji
  • 146 DCP
  • NR
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • Red Psalm 2
  • Red Psalm
  • Még kér a nép
  • Hungary1971
  • Miklós Jancsó
  • 84 DCP
  • NR
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • Golden Eighties 10
  • Golden Eighties
  • Belgium/France/Switzerland1986
  • Chantal Akerman
  • 96 DCP
  • PG
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations