Model Shop

dir. Jacques Demy

TIFF Cinematheque - Retrospective

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A love letter to Los Angeles, Jacques Demy's only American film finds his heroine Lola (Anouk Aimée) working in a seedy photo parlour, where she becomes the object of desire for a lonely would-be architect (Gary Lockwood).

As beautiful and moving as any of Demy's films, Model Shop may finally secure the reputation it so richly deserves in this superlative restoration. Demy updates the fate of Lola (Anouk Aimée), the French prostitute who gave his first feature its name in 1961, who has moved to Los Angeles and works in a "model shop," where lonely men go to snap photos of beautiful women. Replacing Demy's original star Harrison Ford, Gary Lockwood (2001: A Space Odyssey) plays a would-be architect who pursues Lola like some holy grail through the City of Angels. Misunderstood or dismissed upon its release, Model Shop was Demy's only American film, and it shows a fine outsider's sense of atmosphere: L.A.'s fractured topography of beach, canyon, and low-rise metropolis, the pastel model shop with its labyrinth of back rooms, the lambent languor of the Strip at twilight. Aimée is supernal as the lost and longing Lola, Lockwood surprisingly fine as the architect who admires urban geometry but cannot find a design for his inchoate emotion. "One of the great movies about L.A." (Geoff Andrew, Time Out Film Guide).