Aimez-vous Brahms, 1961
[Goodbye Again/Do You Like Brahms?]
are people who, out of self-image, insecurity, or naive delusion that
they can change another person, find themselves in doomed relationships.
In Anatole Litvak's Goodbye Again,
Paula (the intoxicating Ingrid Bergman), a successful, middle-aged
interior decorator, has been trapped in a dead-end relationship with
Roger (Yves Montand), a philandering, transportation businessman.
Commissioned to redecorate the Paris apartment of a wealthy American
widow, she meets the pensive and melancholy Philip (Anthony Perkins),
the widow's aimless son, who is immediately attracted to her. Perhaps
as a novelty of having a young admirer, or plagued by the evidence
of Roger's infidelities, she entertains Philip's persistent advances.
He drives her around town (revealing his romantic history and philosophy
in the process). They have lunch in an outdoor restaurant. They attend
a Brahms Symphony (which, uncoincidentally, is Symphony No. 3). When
Roger goes away on an extended business trip, the separation draws
Paula to Philip, and they become involved. However, their brief affair
is threatened, as Philip's increasing dependency on Paula, and her
self-conscious guilt over having a young lover, become overwhelming.
Perkins shows exceptional depth as the lost and vulnerable Philip.
Note the subtly wonderful scene where a shattered Philip wanders the
streets. Goodbye Again is a poignant,
honest, and bittersweet film about the tragedy of unrequited love
and impossible relationships.
uses the recurrent theme of circles to convey multiple meanings
of the story (as in François Truffaut's Jules
and Jim). The film begins and ends with the same episode.
There are several scenes where Philip drives around Paris aimlessly
to pass the time (This is also thematically revealed through
Philip's indecisiveness and inability to find work or a cause
that he can be passionate about). The film's denouement culminates
with Paula calling down to Philip over a spiral staircase. The
selection of Brahms' Symphony No. 3 is appropriately suited for
the story of a love triangle, having a cyclical melodic pattern.
Moreover, variations of the music are used as a leitmotif throughout
the film (including a haunting blues version sung by Diahann
Carroll), reflecting the atmosphere of the situation. The effect
is one of entrapment and lost direction - a sense that the lives
of these characters are going nowhere - that their relationships,
are, in fact, inevitably doomed.
© Acquarello 1998. All rights
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