Everybody knows Stanley Donen and his famous «Singing in the Rain", or "On the Town », even « Charade » maybe. But, comparatively, only a few have seen « Two for the Road » ;
The movie tells about 15 years, or so, of the life of a couple, played by Albert Finney and Audrey Hepburn. A classic, even trivial pitch indeed !
Nevertheless, from the start the question of style is at stake.
Should one choose a linear chronology with classic stratagems to evoke the passing of time (clocks, calendars, titles, dates on newspapers...), or prefer resorting to good old flasbacks ?
Stanley Donen opts for surprise, dynamism and collision, because time here is a path, a route. As the title suggests it, life is a journey, a road to travel. Therefore, cars and roads are one of the guidelines of the movie.
With a dynamics of its own, the film constantly juggles back and forth in time, and we discover the different phases of this couple's life without being confused on the way.
It's brillant, virtuosic, inventive.
Roads and ways cross, literally and figuratively. It's a simple but fruitful idea. Very quickly, we manage to spot the type or the color of a car and thus the period of time in their life, since they do almost the same route four times.
The second guideline is fashion. After all, you can't cast Audrey Hepburn and neglect elegance ! We witness a fashion show of different periods, from Mary Quant to Paco Rabanne, which is a visual landmark in time as well as a delight for the eye.
All this radiates with liveliness, contagious energy. But where Donen hits the bull's eye is when he manages, with such a clever lightness and apparent casualness, to depict the wear point of a couple, its depressive phases, its tensions on the verge of the breaking point. All this without the Hollywoodian pathos, the compulsory tears and tons of bombastic violins.
It is rather a pointillist painting, with subtle touches of balanced feelings, back and forth in time. Nothing is sickly sentimental or outworn.
Donen reinvents romance and drama.
Audrey Hepburn is a sunbeam whose smile can conceal storms.
Albert Finney is seducing.
Henry Mancini's music is simply obvious.
Let's hit the road !
Two for the Road(1967)
- Stanley Donen
A couple in the south of France non-sequentially spin down the highways of infidelity in their troubled ten-year marriage.