Lady Blue Shanghai

A few months earlier this year, David Lynch directed Marion Cotillard (La vie en rose, Inception) in a new chapter of the Lady Dior series. Lynch’s contribution, a short just over 16 minutes, followed Lady Noire (Olivier Dahan‘s spy short, which actually just plays as a long commercial) and Lady Rouge, a video for “Eyes of Mars”, sung by Cotillard and backed by Franz Ferdinand. The video was directed by Annie Leibovitz. After a black and a red bag, it was now time to promote the blue bag, hence Lady Blue Shanghai being the title of Lynch’s short.

Lady Blue Shanghai is very much Lynchian. The film opens with (the unnamed) Cotillard entering a hotel in Shanghai. The images look very much like Inland Empire, a combination of digital video and high speed cameras. Cotillard goes up to her room, but is very much surprised to hear music coming from her room. As she turns the record player off, a blue bag suddenly appears in the middle of the room. Cotillard rings the lobby and two men are sent up to her room. Not being able to find an intruder, they question what she’s been up to in Shanghai. Enter flashback.

Cotillard is at her best in this Lady chapter. Seeing her perform a song and occasionally rocking to the beat in “Rouge” was nice, but her puzzled look make her a good protagonist for a Lynchian short. As for art direction and confusion, Lady Blue Shanghai is very much like Inland Empire, but another Lynch movie that springs to my mind was the 2002 short The Darkened Room. As for the story and the art direction, the short is very much David Lynch, but I couldn’t help also thinking of Wong Kar-Wai‘s nostalgia. Combine the flow of In The Mood for Love (or 2064, if you want to stretch the hotel reference) with the visual style of Chungking Express and you sort of see what I’m referring to. In fact, WKW would’ve probably made this more interesting. The least convincing bit for me was the special effects with the bag. It’s almost as if they didn’t want to make sure the bag wouldn’t be ruined.

Truth be told, I’ve seen Lynch direct better stuff than this, but it’s only 17 minutes long and if you browse the Lady Dior site you also hear Cotillard recite a poem. The site also directs you to the two earlier Lady Dior projects. A little disappointed perhaps, we move on to the next review… (though please bear in mind that this is still 20,000 times better than that Magnum ad).


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