Model Shop Reviews
It's interesting on some levels for the vintage LA footage, but little else.
"Model Shop" (no "The" in front) is one of those self-consciously flat, empty films where nothing much happens and the dominant characters all seem blank, vacant and aimless. For reference points, think Antonioni, "Five Easy Pieces" (a far superior film) and, more recently, perhaps "Lost in Translation." Lead actor Gary Lockwood (who also appeared in "2001: A Space Odyssey" the same year) gives a fairly dull performance, even if he's *supposed* to be dull, and one learns frustratingly little about his inner life or why he sabotages himself with poor decisions. The film has none of the sparkling, cinematic magic found in more fanciful Demy works like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" and "Donkey Skin" and, really, the best reason to sit through the (lack of) action is probably the realistic look at everyday, late-'60s Los Angeles as Lockwood's character drives around the sunny haze of the city.
Respected L.A. rock band Spirit recorded some nice bits of jazzy score for the film, and briefly appear in one scene as themselves. One member (keyboardist John Locke?) even tries some acting in a short scene with Lockwood. Thankfully, the script never sinks into the dated "Far out, man...I need bread to buy some grass"-type dialogue which one might expect from a "Hollywood youth in the '60s" flick. This is *not* a story about hippies -- the protagonist is educated and relatively clean-cut, and aims to be an architect someday.
Favorite comic detail: The unmentioned agony of the main couple living directly next to a noisy oil rig.
While "The Model Shop" may have the flattest line readings on record, it still stands on its own as a curio from a different time. Viewing Los Angeles from an outsider's perspective, writer-director Jacques Demy sees an automobile culture, each car being a status item with George not being able to afford his. That does not really matter much with the draft hanging over him, not allowing him much thought for the future. Come to think of it, we're not really interested in his future; it is Lola's, continuing her story from a previous film of Demy's.