Audrey Hepburn is Ariane Chavasse, the daughter of a french private investigator (Maurice Chevalier) who spends most of her time either practising the cello or reading her father’s exciting case files. One of his current cases captures her attention: a handsome American, playboy by the name of Frank Flannagan, is driving a suspicious husband insane.
Upon learning the jealous man plans to kill his wife’s lover, Ariane instinctively tries to save Frank, thus creating the chance for romance to arise. He will feel drawn to her, seduce her, and she will resist; not because she’s not interested, but because she’s aware of his intentions and character: to him she’s just another conquest, but to Ariane this man would be her first love.
This American “gentleman” is played by Gary Cooper (kind of going through a phase here, can you tell?), making the age difference between the leads quite staggering — he was 56, she was 28. Though we’ve seen Hepburn in a similar situation before (with Bogart in Sabrina, and with Grant in Charade), this one wasn’t as easy to accept. Cooper’s character is not as youthful and playful as Grant’s (as was the romance between Peter and Regina), and not nearly as complex as Bogart’s (which somehow makes us look past Linus’s age in Sabrina).
Nonetheless, the work of two talented actors seldom goes unnoticed. Cooper maintains the ease of a great actor which has always lured us in, now almost unbearably charged with a predatory seductiveness. As for Hepburn, she’s her usual innocent, hopeful, elegant self – which is cute, but I’m actually curious to see her in a something along the lines of Wait Until Dark.
The story itself has some strokes of originality, with Wilder staying clear from the average love tale from the era, ranging from pure moments of comedy, longing, and of course, heart-stopping romance.
Love in the Afternoon (1957)Love in the Afternoon (1957)
- Billy Wilder's humour
- Leading performances
- Hard to get past the age gap