40 must-watch movies to consider yourself a film buff

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The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)

French director Jacques Demy is a man whose movies I’d love to live in. His candy-coated worldview is so very French and twee, classical and feminine. It’s no surprise that director Damien Chazelle liberally borrowed from Demy’s aesthetic when he created his 2016 musical La La Land.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is a love story told entirely through sung dialogue. Guy (Nino Castelnuovo) is in love with Genevieve (Catherine Deneuve), but has to go on a two-year sojourn to Algiers. Soon after he leaves Genevieve discovers she’s pregnant with Guy’s child, leading to her mother deciding to marry her off to another man to prevent a scandal. Umbrellas of Cherbourg is inspired by fraught romances like Casablanca and Roman Holiday (1953), movies where the lovers’ love is true… but it’s just not meant to be.

Deneuve is impossibly beautiful as the lovelorn Genevieve, and Demy knows how to film her beautifully. I recommend watching the two’s next collaboration, the fairy tale Donkey Skin, after this. Despite the beauteous landscape tragedy lines every shot as the audience wonders whether our two lovers will get together. Through it all, there are wonderful tunes written and performed as dialogue, lending an operatic tone to everything, and you’ll want to drink in every frame of the magnificently gowned world Demy creates.

Where to Watch It: FilmStruck has this to stream now, or you can rent it on Apple.