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Jacques Demy's great musicals (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, A Room in Town) are constructed around the tension between high stylization (sung dialogue, heightened colors) and naturalistic situations (the war in Algeria, a strike in a shipyard). This one falters, perhaps because the narrative—an adaptation of Orpheus in which the poet becomes a contemporary pop star—lacks the element of realism necessary to anchor Demy's flights of fancy. But Demy's inspiration isn't running at all high here: the ruling ideas seem banal (hell is photographed in black-and-white); the more original thoughts (Orpheus's bisexuality) don't get any development. And any movie that asks us to believe that a rock singer (even in France) can pack amphitheaters warbling Michel Legrand tunes is already in very big trouble.

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