Les Demoiselles de Rochefort

26/01/2023 19:30.
Cert PG

Les Demoiselles de Rochefort, Jacques Demy’s pastel-hued tribute to Hollywood musicals, stars Catherine Deneuve and real-life sister Françoise Dorleac as twins whose provincial boredom is swept away when the carnival comes to town. A jazzy score by Michel Legrand further enhances this charming, light-hearted operetta. “Everything about this film is hopping – there are no dead spots” Dennis Schwartz, dennisschwartzreviews.com

Dir: Jacques Demy, France, 125mins, 1967.

Programme Notes


Although being a success in its native France when originally released, Les Demoiselles de Rochefort was panned by some major USA critics and never enjoyed the plaudits it deserved (possibly because the USA release was a dubbed English language version). Over the years, however, and thanks in no small part to the efforts of Demy’s wife Agnes Varda, it has come to be universally recognised as the great film it really is.

The song and dance numbers are playful, the story is meaningful, the performances marvellously refreshing and the plush settings colourful. It is a film that borrows freely from the Hollywood musical but adds its own very French touch of romantic spice and vibrancy. The score, by Michel Legrand, is easy on the ear and the narrative, told almost exclusively in song, features lyrics by Demy himself. There is also a tribute to swing, with much of the scat music being from the likes of Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Lionel Hampton. The spirited choreography is eye-catching in a film where music is everywhere – when a fair comes to town, pedestrians suddenly break into a dance number, which gives the story an odd touch of unintended reality. As in his other romantic films, Demy points out that the prospects of meeting your ideal love mate depend more on chance and good timing than on anything else.

The film, taking place over a long weekend, is centred on a small seaside town in south west France, whose square is painted in stunning pastel colours and where twin sisters Delphine (Catherine Deneuve) and Solange (Françoise Dorleac) harbour unfulfilled dreams of escaping their dull lives by going to Paris in search of romance. When a funfair comes to town, with its young, free-spirited carnies, the sisters see a way to realise their hopes and dreams – and get a free ride to Paris ….

Despite Hollywood musicals being somewhat passé at the time of its release, Les Demoiselles de Rochefort nevertheless gained a nomination for Best Musical Score at the 41st Academy Awards.

Audiences now have a chance to catch up with a great film that has been passed over through no fault of its own.


Brilliant – brought back so many memories

An absolute pleasure, even if some of the set pieces were a bit long!

Pure escapism but such fun!

Great dancing but forgettable story and music

An age of innocence

Not my thing – rehearsals must have been endless! Costumes interesting and music very much of the period


A:10, B:6, C:1, D:1, E:1 to give 80% from 83% of those present.