Elegant and educated bachelor, Charles Swann, moves in the most powerful and fashionable circles of Paris in the 1890's. When he falls in love with Odette de Crecy, a courtesan, his friends... See full summary »
Elegant and educated bachelor, Charles Swann, moves in the most powerful and fashionable circles of Paris in the 1890's. When he falls in love with Odette de Crecy, a courtesan, his friends warn him against marriage. Proving himself a silly and socially-foul goose, Swann ducks his social responsibilities, Odette ensnares him, and he is gently but firmly cast out of society amidst everyone's great politeness. Written by
A section of Marcel Proust's supposedly unfilmable novel, "Rememberances of Things Past", is filmed by German director Volker Shlondorff in "Swann in Love".
Actor Jeremy Irons plays our titular hero (Charles Swann), a nineteenth-century gentleman whose Jewishness irks the Parisian elite. What can they do to remove him from their ranks? More importantly, how can they get rid of him without getting their hands dirty?
Many works of art have dealt with Jewish outsiders, but few turn antisemitism into such a shrewd game of cloak and daggers. The social circles Swann frequents don't just want to kick him out, they want Swann to kick himself out. To condemn himself. Only in this way will their preserve their own chasteness.
Of course Swann's downfall soon comes. He becomes infatuated with Odette de Crecy, a manipulative woman who seduces Swann into marriage. She just wants his money. He just wants to conquer her and add her to his treasure chest of arts and riches. When they are married, and Odette's sordid past is revealed, Swann's enemies finally have the pretext for ostracising him. By the film's end, Swann has lost everything money, fame, power, status, wife and becomes yet another victim to human folly.
The film's cast is fine (particularly Irons, Alain Delon and Ornella Muti as Odette), but Shlondorff isn't strong enough a visualist to tease out their passions or fully milk his tale's tragedy. Some visuals work tremendously opera stages used to highlight the faux-graciousness and play-acting of society's upper echelons, and a few sensitive fantasy sequences but similar tales have been better told elsewhere.
7.9/10 Worth one viewing. For a more zany take on this material, see "Phantom of the Paradise".
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