Two women love the same man in a world of few prospects. In Budapest, Liliom is a "public figure," a rascal who's a carousel barker, loved by the experienced merry-go-round owner and by a ...
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Two women love the same man in a world of few prospects. In Budapest, Liliom is a "public figure," a rascal who's a carousel barker, loved by the experienced merry-go-round owner and by a young, innocent maid. The maid, Julie, loses her job after going out with Liliom; he's fired by his jealous employer for going out with Julie. The two lovers move in with Julie's aunt; unemployment emasculates him and a local weasel tempts him with crime. Julie, now wan, is true to Liliom even in his bad temper. Meanwhile, a stolid widower, a carpenter, wants to marry Julie. Is there any future on this earth for Julie and Liliom, whose love is passionate rather than ideal? Written by
Saw this picture was playing at the Film Forum so I said, what the heck, why not? At least I can compare it to "Carousel". And so, I was not prepared for it and was pleasantly surprised. It is a minimalist (to use current artsy language) version with spare sets and shot entirely on a sound stage, and featuring Charles Boyer as Liliom as I had never seen him before. It was a great performance from Boyer, almost unrecognizable from the oily gigolo types he played in Hollywood. Boisterous and exuberant, he brings his character to life, and now I can't imagine anyone else playing this role.
Apart from no musical score, this picture differs from "Carousel" as Liliom enters his afterlife. In "Carousel", the sequence in heaven was almost an afterthought, but here Lang infuses it with some touches that are both surreal and extremely imaginative, and without the benefit of digital enhancement. No special effects here. I didn't care for Madeleine Ozeray's interpretation of the Julie character, which came off as naive and withdrawn, almost a form of neurosis. But she, like the rest of the cast, stayed out of Boyer's way. Recommended - see it if you are a fan of actors and acting.
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