Darling 1965 ****


John Schlesinger’s best work has stood the test of time; Darling isn’t particularly well remembered today, but it’s a sleeping giant of a film, with a script by Frederick Raphael (Eyes Wide Shut) that deserved its Academy Awards win. Julie Chistie also won an Oscar for her portrayal of Diana Scott, a British model who escapes her humdrum marriage as her career temporarily ignites at the hands of various powerful men, including Dirk Bogarde and Laurence Harvey. Perhaps it’s the black and white photography that was at odds with the examination of glamorous jet-set lifestyles; Darling’s concerns seem remarkably modern now, and in keeping with the meetoo movement in a portrayal of a woman wronged. There’s no sentiment here, nor redemption, just observation of how the sweet life might turn sour for one individual, and how escape from one set of traps might turn into a dead end. Success is shown to be an illusion, and perhaps that’s why Darling’s portrait of an amoral world hasn’t resonated; a revival on streaming may find a new audience for this skilful dissection of a life drained of meaning.


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