Letter From An Unknown Woman (1948)
Genre: Drama Romance
Starring: Joan Fontaine (Rebecca; The Bigamist), Louis Jourdan (Octopussy; Gigi)
Directed By: Max Ophuls (The Earrings of Madame de...; The Reckless Moment)
Overview: A man fleeing his home in Vienna around 1900, stumbles across a letter as he packs his things. The letters tell of her secret love for him, from as early as she could remember, and the life they had, in those rare fleeting moments they were together.
Acting: Ok I'll give both the leads and their director this much: no matter how much I hated the movie, the acting was not the problem. Yes they play their roles a touch dramatically, but not melodramatically. It's a real shame these people didn't have enough to work with, because they're both quite talented. I'm sure any other movie they're in is great. Hopefully it won't be another boring romance.
Cinematography: When presented with an older film whose sound and picture quality is less than impeccable, one tries to be forgiving, not letting themselves be distracted by such matters. While watching this however, one can enjoy the sparks and black spots, the artistic way the seemingly overlit white faces leak through the unkempt film. Anything is better than watching the bland predictability of such a boring-looking movie. It also makes you stop wondering why this wasn't available on DVD, or why they never tried remastering it. Why it's still in print... that's the great mystery.
Script: Most of this movie is two people telling each other about their past, unless it's while the man reads the letter narrated by her. I never had a problem with narration... until this movie. These people's lives are just about as lame as anyone else's (who cares that the girl's father worked for Public Works?) and the whole time he's telling her in as many ways as possible, "Where have you been all my life?". Dude? If you fall in love with the girl of your dreams in one night, how can you not remember her ten years later? What a BORING SCRIPT!
Plot: Somebody (stalkers aside) tell me what fun there is in watching two total strangers going on a first date? Is there anything more pathetic than watching other people live their everyday lives? I don't care if he's a concert pianist, she's just an obsessive psycho. As plot twists go, next time I leave for two weeks on business after finding the love of my life the night before, I guess I won't expect that the dirty skirt would dare wait a whole 14 days for me to get back without explaining it to anyone, including us, the audience! This isn't entertainment, it's an experiment in eye-gouging.
Mood: 20 minutes in, I was staring catatonically at the corner of the ceiling, my left eye and right middle finger twitching as the banality took hold. I thought of all the people who made this film popular and worthy of being put in a book, to be agreed upon as a 'must see before one died'. If our existence is wrought with highs and lows, this is one of those low moments that make me appreciate life as a gift.
Overall Rating: 36% (If Only She'd Have Stayed Unknown!)
Aftertaste: Then we have the kind of film you expected would be a boring, stupid 'why-on-earth-is-this-a-classic' classic! Number 80 from 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die was one of the growing (and now-expected) films that I will predict long ahead of time as some run of the mill romantic drivel period piece.
When I told a good friend the TITLE of the film I was watching today, he replied, "That sounds awful."
Believe me, it was...