It’s just really hard to care when vaguely bad things happen to unlikable people. If her husband hadn’t had his own mistress I’d be Team André.

france, 1953, french


The Earrings of Madame de ...

I put off watching this for a long time. In retrospect, I simply had put far too much faith in the description on the back of the box. It’s a mistake I’m often guilty of. I know nothing about most of these films, so that’s the only judge I really have on what to watch. At any rate, I was expecting something of emotional intensity, and therefore never felt like I was in quite the right mood. Had I known that this was really much fluffier I might have had less resistance to it.

I didn’t like this movie. I think the problem is me really, not the film itself. Perhaps I remain in too cynical a place. Or maybe the exact opposite actually, perhaps I’m in too happy and hopeful a place. In either respect, I just don’t enjoy stories about unlikable people. It hasn’t changed throughout this project, and it often puts me on the outs with an otherwise phenomenal film like this one.

This is the story of a woman whose full name we never learn. She is simply Madame de ..., the wife of a count and military general. At the beginning of the film she is pawning the earrings he gave her as a wedding present, due to some unexplained financial debt. That leads to a web of coincidences that ultimately doom her marriage, and maybe her life.

My problem is that we are never given a reason to care what happens to this woman. She’s unbelievably spoiled, but also a prisoner of her circumstance. Her husband clearly loves her, but their marriage is one of formality of role adherence. He has his own mistress, which is apparently fine, but she’s only allowed to flirt, never allowed to take it further than that. Which is fine, until she falls in love.

But her love story isn’t given any weight either, not really. Why does she love the Baron? Because she does. Why is she willing to risk everything for him? Because she is. Why does her husband keep covering for her, until he doesn’t? Because. Ultimately, I just didn’t feel anything for anyone in the story. If anything, I had the most sympathy for her husband, and he’s pretty clearly a controlling philanderer. That’s a hard story to feel passionate about.