Darling (1965)

Darling (1965), directed by John Schlesinger.

A mid-60s mod soap opera, not strongly plotted, just episodes in the life of a model and her men. She describes herself as "a professional bosom" and seems a bit dim and emotionally shallow. Which doesn't mean she doesn't suffer real pain. For some reason she is restless and unable to be happy for long. She needs men in her life but says she doesn't enjoy sex very much.

The bitter social commentary is set up in the opening credits: tattered posters of starving African children are covered with a new shining ad featuring our fashion goddess. Who wants to look at hungry children when you can regard Julie Christie? Later she presides at a charity raffle for wealthy patrons at an upscale gambling house. African relief is the cause and black boys in white wigs and antique page boy costumes are serving.

I've always been fascinated by Christie, a great beauty with a distinguished career: Doctor Zhivago (1965), Fahrenheit 451 (1966), Petulia (1968), McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), Don't Look Now (1973), Demon Seed (1977), Heat and Dust (1983). Love that nose, I really do. Schlesinger directed her before in Billy Liar (1963) and would do so again in Far from the Madding Crowd (1967).

Adding further intrigue: her leading men are Dirk Bogarde and Laurence Harvey, both gay actors. (Gossips say Harvey was flexible: he married three times for career advancement). A notable amount of gay in this one for 1965. A funny scene: in Italy she is sunbathing with her friend and his friends. When a timer goes off all the men turn over but she doesn't bother.

More: Harvey projects a sort of satanic image and runs with a fast crowd. In Paris he takes her to a party with a live sex show and a cruel "truth" game. She doesn't like it at first but adapts. And yet, he surprises us in the end by actually seeming to care about her. She: "You think I'm going to harm myself, don't you? Has this happened to you before? Who was she?"

I like seeing mid-60s London with excursions to Rome and Capri. Much as I admire the talent, 2h6m is long enough for this.

My thumbnails are from a region B Blu-ray import. I don't see a North American edition.