The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968)

The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968) movie poster

director Jack Cardiff
viewed: 12/26/2016

I can’t recall exactly what had me add Jack Cardiff’s The Girl on a Motorcycle to my queue.  It had to be more than Marianne Faithfull in a skin-tight leather bodysuit with nothing on underneath.  It had to be more than Cardiff himself, legendary cameraman turned director.

1968 was a radical heyday of feature filmmaking, especially in Europe, spilling into the mainstream.  The Girl on a Motorcycle seems a bit of a mainstream attempt at something more of the time, of the moment, rebellion, experimentation.  It bears flashes of that.  Social commentary. A story, told entirely by men, attempting an interior perspective of female psyche in time and place.

Faithfull is gorgeous, in a very blond ideal.  And she fills out her leather motorbike suit well, and caps it off his a dashing helmet.  And her lover, Alain Delon, is maybe male gorgeousness embodied, too. It’s to him she races on her motorcycle, away from her tepid husband of two months.

What actually niggled me more than anything were all the obvious studio shots of Faithfull riding the motorcycle.  The film is filled with exteriors as she moves from Alsace to Switzerland, but all the close-ups belie a lot of it. And for some reason, that just grated on me. Maybe it’s a bit irrational, but the go-to studio rear projection thing somehow just felt all wrong here. And tacky.

So, yeah. I don’t know.  I liked the ending.

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