EVA(director: Joseph Losey; screenwriters: Hugo Butler/Evan Jones/from book by James Hadley Chase; cinematographer: Gianni Di Venanzo; editors: Reginald Beck/Franca Silvi; cast: Jeanne Moreau (Eva), Stanley Baker (Tyvian Jones), Virna Lisi (Francesca), Giorgio Albertazzi (Braneo Maloni), James Villiers (Arthur McCormick); Runtime: 115; Kino Films, 1963-France/Italy)
“Losey puts a political face on both romances and compares them to a cold world bereft of Eden.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A moody psychological drama about the heartaches and alienation of a troubled Welshman, Tyvian Jones (Stanley Baker), who can’t handle his rise from humble beginnings to his sudden fame as a writer. This comes after his autobiography as a miner becomes a best-seller. This very bitter film, a retread of “The Blue Angel,” might appeal to fans of the great French actress Jeanne Moreau, in one of her best performances ever, as she intensely plays Eva. She is the soul of the film, putting some teeth into this dark and improbable story.
Joseph Losey, the American director of this film, was living in England in self-exile as a result of the McCarthy witch hunt. This b/w film is set in wintertime Venice and is filmed in a coldly sweeping baroque style. The jazzy musical score is by Michel Legrand and the great Billie Holiday song “Weep for me,” is most appropriate for the down mood the film idles on from beginning to end. The principal characters were simply not only not likable, lovable, or even cordial; but, they are personifications of a destructive God, willing to take not only themselves down but anyone else who gets in their way.
The story itself is the film’s main problem, because it is so unsettling and perverse. It never lets in any sunlight.
Ty is engaged to marry someone he doesn’t love, Francesca (Virna Lisi), a screenwriter working on the film they are making from his popular book. She is madly in love with him, even though she realizes that he is a scoundrel and a womanizer.
On the weekend of their marriage a beautiful kept woman, Eva, and her rich sugar daddy, get stranded in a rainstorm and seek shelter in Ty’s house. Ty becomes obsessed with her, even though she plainly tells him not to fall in love with her that she’s a whore and expects to receive cash for her time. But he’s so twisted, that he’s not seeking love but chasing something more eerie and elusive. He is so depraved that he runs away with her to Venice, staying at its best hotel and paying for her gambling and other whims. This drunken weekend of carnal pleasure will cost him $30,000 and possibly the loss of his future wife.
While in a drunken stupor Ty confesses to her that he didn’t write the book but stole it from his dying brother, now dead, who gave him permission to steal it and use his name on it. Ty’s brother worked all his life as a miner, but he worked as a miner for only six weeks. Eva is not consoling but is nevertheless understanding of what he did, considering him a loser. She rejects him and his love. The only kind thing that can be said that is good about the femme fatale, is that she’s upfront.
Ty rushes back to marry Francesca telling her he’s no good, that he spent the weekend with a woman. She reluctantly forgives him and they marry. On their honeymoon after a few days of marital bliss, he sneaks away and visits Eva in Rome. When Francesca learns of this, she becomes so heartbroken that she commits suicide.
Meanwhile Ty is rejected by Eva, who is seen with other men who take care of her materially. Ty’s so obsessed and humiliated by her that he plans to kill her. When he sees her sailing to Greece with another one of her lovers, he wants to kill her but can’t. He is reduced to begging her for a chance to see her again, which she vaguely promises she might do if she ever comes back to Rome again.
It’s a film that basically is asking two unanswerable questions: How do you explain a woman’s love for a guy who is no good? How do you explain a guy’s love for a woman who is no good? Losey puts a political face on both romances and compares them to a cold world bereft of Eden.
REVIEWED ON 10/20/2000 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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