I almost ALWAYS only write actual semi-reviews for films I utterly loved, films I utterly hated, or films that are completely and brilliantly idiotic. I never blog about harmless, forgettable movies (for those I write a couple sentences on my 2011 in Film page). But, I have to with Jessica....because I don't even know whether I'm supposed to love it or hate it or ridicule it. THE MILLIE IS HOPELESSLY CONFUSED. ;-D
This movie has an awesome setting in Sicily -- utterly gorgeous. The cast is super-cool. The '60s fashion is to-die-for. And the music is quite lovely.
But the story is complete junk. Normally, I adore horribly written movies -- but I don't even know what to say about this one. It tries to be dramatic and "realistic," before being lured away into becoming a charming and wonderfully unrealistic comedy, before suddenly remembering that this is Jean Negulesco picture -- AND IT'S GONNA BE DRAMATIC. It's like the writer realized that the characters were just a little too happy and settled -- QUICK! KILL OFF THE HARMLESS, OLD CARE-TAKER WHO IS CURRENTLY EXPERIENCING A LITTLE JOY FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HIS OLD AGE AND DESTROY THE GARDEN HE'S BEEN WORKING ON FOR 60 YEARS WHILE YOU'RE AT IT! And while, we're on that point. The little wind storm utterly demolishes the garden he's been working on for 60 years. Had there literally been NO wind in Sicily since at least 1902?! (Normally, I forgive such anomalies. But, I'm not in a forgiving mood. ;-D)
I'm not even going to talk about the remarkable amount of sexism in this film, because I want to move right along to Maurice Chevalier as a priest.
*Excuse me a moment.*
Okay, anyway, I'm back. Yeah. Maurice Chevalier is the, um, devout and pious Father of the village (yeah, I'm stilling dying of laughter). He also sings and dances. And as the title character of Jessica is a midwife, I was seriously expecting him to wander by singing, "Thank heaven for leeetle girhls..."
Also: Why was everyone mad at Jessica? SHE DID ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG. arrrgghhh.
Good things about this movie:
** It once again makes me want to Vespa my way around '60s Europe.
** The fashion was awesome.
**The cast was utterly brilliant.
** MARCEL DALIO SIGHTING (even though his character was extremely creepy [and Marcel made it the least possible of creepy that he could])!
** Gabriele Ferzetti.
Who is this actor? AND WHY HAVE I NEVER HEARD OF HIM BEFORE?! He was so utterly perfect that I added basically all of his 50s/60s stuff to my Netflix. He's in a bunch of famous films that I've heard of before -- BUT SOMEHOW I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF HIM?! Craziness.
And while we're on the subject of Gabriele Ferzetti (his name is totally fun to type): You know how in all those late '50s/early '60s movies where there was a "handsome," older bachelor it was ALWAYS played by Rossano Brazzi -- but he is just so seriously creepy that I can't even handle watching anything with him? Well, Gabriele Ferzetti (go type/say his name. You know it's fun. ;-D) was playing that part in this movie AND HE WAS SO PERFECT. Is there any possible way we can go and digitally remove Rossano Brazzi from everything and add Gabriele Ferzetti instead? Get back to me on that, because I am seriously curious. ;-D
Well, in conclusion, I don't even know what to say about this movie. It was like the kind of movie I should have loved ('60s, Sicily, cool clothes, Vespa, MARCEL DALIO), but absolutely do not love.
That script was crazy and not in a good way (and you have to be aware that to be not crazy in a good way in the eyes of The Millie is extremely hard to be).
However, this movie introduced me to Gabriele Ferzetti -- so all is forgiven.
Well, almost all. I still cannot get the image of Maurice Chevalier as a singing, dancing priest out of my head. I fear that I never shall.