Jeanne Moreau is a bottle-blonde gambler wearing out her welcome, herself, and a naive guy who stumbles her way on the French Riviera in Bay of Angels.
And stumble, he does, right into Jackie’s world-weary arms. She haunts the beachfront hotels of the French Riviera, Cannes, Nice, and on over to Monaco. The early sixties location scenes of these early jet-set locales, in and of themselves, are very interesting in this 1963 French film. A femme fatale of a certain type, Jackie may not kill our young man literally, but figuratively is a different story. Not only will she gamble all of her money away amidst the tuxedos and gowns of the Riviera casinos, she will aggressively demand and gamble all of his money away, too.
The flash of her peroxide-blonde hair and the ditzy intrigue of her compulsions draw in this unsuspecting, naive, young gentleman gambler. It’s not unnoticed, but more of a matter of not caring, that she is a higher mileage vehicle, at this point, and a beat-up one at that. As far as her gambling is concerned, that point is the one of no return, and she crossed it years before. While not explicitly shown, there are plenty of hints that her problems are as deep and wide as the Mediterranean Sea. Will our young gent escape the bottle-blonde appeal of this fatal attraction? Only her hairdresser knows for sure.
There is a certain symmetry between this Jackie and that Jackie, both sleek and fashionable, the era, and a certain allure, among other things, but that symmetry diverges sharply in matters of composure, conduct, comportment and all things common sense. One Jackie, an elegant First Lady, the other Jackie, a bad few minutes at the tables away from a night on the streets, sharp suit and shoes, notwithstanding. Ah, they could be sisters, but for the moat of whatever it is that has happened to the déclassé Jackie in the past, impassible in its imperial inequity, the misty realm and reaches of Camelot lost to her long ago in a bottomless pit, the dank and dreary depths of which we fathom not. Cocktail, anyone?
And to belabor the point for the third or fourth or fifth time, the wheel spins so, the wear and tear on this babe is obviously evident, her problems are the kind that will quickly sink young sir like an anchor to the bottom of the sea, and yet she is somehow irresistible. Fast forward 53 years to today, and this is what is now known, aptly, as a “Hot Mess.”
The only question then, is, can you resist the flaxen corrosion of one Jacqueline Demaistre, so vibrantly brought to life by Jeanne Moreau in Bay of Angels? I think not. And like the sometimes fabulously lucky characters of this French film, I’ll wager on that. Roulette is their game, the spinning wheel their shared fate and, well, bouncing ball, I’m feeling lucky, too. Et vous?