Darling (1965)

Darling (1965)

“Your idea of fidelity is not having more than one man in bed at the same time.”

A fun-loving model (Julie Christie) in Swinging Sixties London has an affair with a BBC writer (Dirk Bogarde), then turns to bedding a handsome playboy (Laurence Harvey) before meeting an Italian prince (José Luis de Vilallonga) while on a work trip with her photographer-friend (Roland Curram) — but will she ever find lasting personal happiness?

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Dirk Bogarde Films
  • Infidelity
  • John Schlesinger Films
  • Julie Christie Films
  • Laurence Harvey Films
  • Models

Julie Christie won an Oscar as Best Actress for her breakthrough leading role in this film by John Schlesinger, with a screenplay by Frederic Raphael based on an idea by British journalist Godfrey Winn. According to TCM’s article, Schlesinger noted that the story “started with the idea of the ghastliness of the present-day attitude of people who want something for nothing,” with “Diana Scott, the principal character, emerg[ing] in the script of Darling as an amalgam of various people we had known.” Unfortunately, while Christie does indeed effectively embody a beautiful, vapid, seemingly compass-less young woman, there isn’t a whole lot of inherent interest in seeing someone like this on screen for two-hours+.

We’re actually filled with distaste for both her and Bogarde — her first “conquest” in the film — from the beginning, due to both of them wantonly abandoning their spouses (and, in Bogarde’s case, two young kids). Perhaps Bogarde can be “excused” for (foolishly) following his lust and ego, but Christie simply comes across as spoiled, jealous, and even a bit vindictive.

Soon Christie seems meet her “match” in the equally arrogant “Miles Brand” (Harvey), and he does indeed take her down a notch.

However, once Christie settles down with a gay friend she happily refers to as her “brother” (Curram), she continues to exhibit ample signs of selfishness and careless disregard — as exemplified in the scenes in which she shoplifts, and then the pair kill her pet goldfish.

When in Italy (the location shooting is beautiful), Christie seems to finally have landed in a space where she feels at home: everything is regal, beautiful, and driven by surface values. However, her eventual acceptance of a role as de Vilallonga’s token wife (perhaps unsurprisingly) does nothing to eradicate the emptiness she feels at the core of her being. While I understand audiences at the time being charmed by Christie’s beauty — and perhaps appreciated feeling vicariously immersed in the hipness of her lifestyle — she’s no longer worth spending time with anymore.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Dirk Bogarde as Robert Gold
  • Julie Christie as Diana Scott
  • Ken Higgins’ cinematography

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a one-time look for its historical relevance (i.e., Christie’s Oscar win).


One thought on “Darling (1965)

  1. Rewatch (5/17/22). Not must-see.

    Like ‘Billy Liar’, which Schlesinger had just made in ’63, ‘Darling’ takes on one idea (in this case, bringing down the upper classes) and repeats its same point over and over and over. What we’re watching is certainly accurate but, with the particular way it’s served up and plays out, it’s also a bore to watch.

    Written by one of our least interesting screenwriters (Frederic Raphael), ‘Darling’ was an instant hit on release – however, soon enough it was re-evaluated as over-hyped.

    Christie has nice screen presence (and has turned in genuinely fine, compelling performances in other films) but she received an Oscar for a performance here that isn’t Oscar-worthy and can hardly be viewed as any kind of acting challenge.

    The following point in the assessment is well-said: [Unfortunately, while Christie does indeed effectively embody a beautiful, vapid, seemingly compass-less young woman, there isn’t a whole lot of inherent interest in seeing someone like this on screen for two-hours+.] This is the kind of screen character who pops up every now and then in film and is simply repellent due to some form of vanity. It’s the kind of performance that, strangely, can lead to high praise from critics and Academy members (i.e., Daniel Day Lewis in ‘Phantom Thread’ or Cate Blanchett in ‘Tár’) but is simply tedious to watch.

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