Demy Monde: Lola

(France, 1961, 85 mins, DCP)
In French with English subtitles
CAST Anouk Aimée, Marc Michel, Jacques Harden


Lola, a cabaret dancer, is raising a boy whose father, Michel, left seven years ago. She is waiting for him. She sings, dances and occasionally dallies with passing sailors. Roland Cassard, a childhood friend whom she meets by chance, falls deeply in love with her. But she is waiting for Michel…

Jacques Demy had imagined his first film as a full-blown musical, but presented with a tenth of the budget he needed Demy curtailed his plans – though he still managed to shoot it in ’scope (the ravishing black and white photography is by Godard’s cameraman, Raoul Coutard) and pressed Michel Legrand into composing the score (after his original choice, Quincy Jones, fell through). Legrand, of course, would become a key collabortor over the next decade.

As the beloved eponymous cabaret artiste, an indelible character midway between Marlene Dietrich’s Blue Angel and Barbara Sukowa’s Fassbinder floozie, Anouk Aimée announces that "to want happiness is to already have a bit of it." Demy’s friend Godard praised the film to the skies, and quoted from it in Une femme est une femme (1961) and Bande a part (1964).

"Magical… Lola is imbued with a poignant awareness of the transcience of happiness and the difficulties and unlikelihood of love." Geoff Andrew, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

"Taps deep into a dreamy and wistful romantic spirit." Blake Lucas, Defining Moments in Movies