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Two for the Road

two for the road

Image Credit:  Two for the Road, 1967

Because I had the foresight to know I’d still be recovering from Oscar-night libations, I’ve arranged a special treat this week.  For the first time on Cinema Sips, I am happy to welcome a guest blogger!  When the author of the Critic For All Seasons blog approached me about doing a post and cocktail pairing with the wonderful film Two for the Road (DVD/Download), I was thrilled (and not just because this was finally proof that someone other than my mother reads Cinema Sips).  If you’ve been looking for more in-depth analyses of films, read on, and be sure to check out my guest’s blog at http://criticforallseasons.blogspot.com.  Cheers!

Two for the Road, by A Critic for All Seasons

Two for the Road is a 1967 road trip romance starring Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney. Directed by Stanley Donen of Charade and Singin’ in the Rain fame, this picture was billed as a comedy but honestly is a heartfelt drama by present day standards. The film follows the story of Mark and Joanna Wallace, an unhappily married couple traveling to the French Riviera trying to make their relationship work. We then see how the couple first met, cutting to them on a boat crossing the English Channel a decade earlier while the present day Wallaces cross by air. There then are several other cuts through time of similar vacations in France in no real chronological order. These are linked by visual cues, like landmarks or similar weather. The past melds with the present in such a way that each story feels central to the film, versus them being a montage of flashbacks. There are 4 main plots, the melancholic present, their cheerful courtship and two trips from earlier in their marriage. As you would guess, the vacations become more gloomy as time progresses. It’s exciting to see the collapse of their relationship out of order, as the contrast of immediate highs and lows puts everything into perspective.

Keeping track of the jumps in time may be difficult, as narration is used for the first few shifts in time but not after. Luckily, we have great visuals to show passage, specifically vehicles, attire and hair. When the Wallaces first meet they are poor, travel by hitchhiking and wear plain clothes. In the present they travel by their own car, a Mercedes Benz to put their wealth into perspective, and Audrey has beautiful ready to wear clothing. Albert Finney’s clothing also becomes more refined to match his career advances, but our eyes are drawn to Hepburn for obvious reasons. This cinematography of Two for the Road is very playful and aids the story. Besides stressing the bright colors of the environment, the camera shows everything from the perspective of the characters. Whenever there is dialogue, constant cuts happen so we always see the speaker from the person listening. This method of filming is really helpful in having the audience sympathize for Mark and Joanna, as we are put in their shoes whenever they argue, have fun or sulk.

The acting in Two for the Road is amazing and makes the film unique. This is one of the few times that Audrey Hepburn was able to shed her distinguished image and play a faulty character. The Nun’s Story and Breakfast at Tiffany’s have her in similar waters, but here we actually feel dislike for her. Joanna starts out a carefree soul, by the end she is disheartened and miserable most of the time. The joy she had earlier in life comes out only on brief occasions, before it is stifled by Finney. Stark changes in personality are hard to capture, but she managed to do it here and give the audience something to think about. Finney’s portrayal of Mark was pretty decent too, although his character always was harsh so there isn’t a major transformation we can look to. The only main supporting characters were a married couple played by William Daniels and Eleanor Bron. Both did a good job and provided some comic relief as friends of Finney’s character. Daniels was a nice treat since he looked nothing like himself, resulting in me questioning where I heard that voice until I looked up the cast. Overall, Two for the Road is a must see since it combines great acting, a great story and gorgeous images into one two hour block.

The cocktail pairing, like the film, has a French atmosphere, looks beautiful and is very strong. Called the Paris Cocktail, this is a mixture of 1 oz gin, 1 oz dry vermouth and 1 oz crème de cassis. Noilly Prat is recommended since it is made in Southern France, the final destination of the Wallaces in each of their trips. Combine and shake with ice and serve in a martini glass with a flamed lemon peel.

Paris Cocktail

*If you are a blogger and interested in guest-blogging on Cinema Sips, please contact Liz Locke at cinemasips@gmail.com for more information. 

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