Bay of Angels 12/04/26 2:36
Claude Mann plays Jean, a young man working as a bank clerk, who one day is invited to a local casino by a friend and promptly wins big at roulette. Believing that he's developed a fool-proof method of winning, he gives up his boring, dependable existence living with his parents, and travels to Nice where he meets Jackie (played by Jeanne Moreau), a divorcee and inveterate gambler losing big at the tables until she plays Jean's numbers and starts to win again.
Moreau, dressed in white with platinum blonde hair, is perfection—her character is an impulsive fatalist, blending romance and world-weariness, living only in the moment, her moods quickly rising and falling along with her luck. The young man is infatuated with her and begins to lose his winning ways in his efforts to please her. Her motives seem less noble—Jean is her lucky charm, and when the luck runs out she is ready to run.
From the time the two of them first meet, the entire story, which includes an unlucky trip to Monte Carlo, seems to take place in just a few days. Demy finds the right tone—not too light or too heavy, the film is kind to its characters without idealizing them. The black-and-white widescreen compositions are beautiful and precise (Jean Rabier shot the picture), and there's a real sense here of the rarefied atmosphere of the old wealth casinos. The reliance on luck, with all the hunches and superstitions it involves, is portrayed here as a kind of world view, an attitude towards life that turns out to be founded on despair. But to Demy's credit (and the film's benefit) we are allowed the hope of a way out, a chance for redemption, even for Moreau's seductive and amoral Jackie.
Bay of Angels is available on DVD.