"I'm trying to create a world in my films," Jacques Demy (1931–1990) once said. This demiurge (Demy-urge?) repeatedly transformed humdrum provincial port towns into florid, fantastic realms, starting with his first feature, Lola (1961). Set in Nantes, where the director grew up, and shot in lustrous black-and-white CinemaScope by Raoul Coutard, the movie takes its inspiration from sources as varied as Balzac and Max Ophu?ls. Lola serves as the initial installment in a Come?die Humaine–like port-city pentad in which characters reappear or are referenced. Anouk Aime?e plays the cabaret performer of the title, who still aches for the man who left her seven years earlier. Her chance meeting with Roland Cassard (Marc Michel), a childhood friend, exemplifies Lola's lattice- work of coincidences. Both Roland/Michel and Lola/Aimee return in later Demy masterworks — the former in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), the latter in Model Shop (1968). But perhaps the most crucial partnership that began with Lola was Demy's collaboration with composer Michel Legrand, whose music in this film and the eight others they made together was essential to the hybrid microcosms built by the man who remains one of cinema's most melancholy romantics.


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