YOU KNOW WHO I AM MR. FLANNAGAN.
I’M THE GIRL IN THE AFTERNOON.
Ariane, in Love in the Afternoon
Directed by BILLY WILDER
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 I’ve encountered some similar situations 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 intricate as Bogart’s, which somehow makes us look past Linus’s age.
Nonetheless, the work of two talented actors seldom goes unnoticed. Cooper maintains the ease of a great actor, and the charming simplicity of being that has always lured us in, now unbearingly 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.