Until September

An American woman stranded in Paris. A handsome Frenchman whose wife is away for the month. An accidental meeting. A budding affair. The lights of Paris, the wine, the music….

But, mon ami, we have seen all this before, non? Well, oui, dozens of times. Still, Until September has the courage of its clichés—problem is, it just tries to run right over them, rather than trying to find a way around them.

Karen Allen, of Raiders of the Lost Ark, plays the American divorcee who misses her plane in Paris. She drops into a friend’s pad, but the friend is on vacation for the month of August, as most Parisians are.

Living next door is a gorgeous banker (Thierry Lhermitte, of My Best Friend’s Girl) who is alone and fair game: his wife is out of town and his mistress has left him. He is more than willing to help our heroine find the best restaurant and the coziest bed in town. She resists the latter for a while, but comes around finally. Which leads to the exposure of much bare skin, and a splendid time by both.

But those nagging questions about his wife and children, visiting relatives until September, are bound to crop up in stories such as this. Otherwise things would be disgustingly blissful, and there’s nothing dramatic about that. So they bicker, but it’s all set against the Eiffel Tower and the Seine River (and set to John Barry’s rather nice romantic music).

It’s a pretty sappy movie, but a somewhat likable one. Actually, Until September is leavened with a sprightly sense of humor about itself. Until the Serious Questions start getting raised in the last third of the movie, there’s some fun to be had.

Karen Allen is obviously enjoying herself as the spunky Yank. And Lhermitte displays a smooth comic style, including  physical comedy, which he gets to do in the film’s final sequence: a chase through an airport. Don’t romance movies always end in airports?

The director, Richard Marquand, most recently helmed the final installment of the Star Wars series, Return of the Jedi. It’s understandable that he would want to make a small film after that gargantuan job, and Until September is certainly modest in its ambitions.

Marquand’s Eye of the Needle, made a couple of years earlier, marked him as a director to watch. In that sense, Until September is a disappointment, because it certainly isn’t a director’s film. I assume that most of the film’s naïve twists and turns are the work of the first-time scenarist, Janice Lee Graham.

At its heart, Until September is really a Harlequin Romance, dressed up in summer clothes and—through Allen’s occasional speeches about being a big girl and putting Lhermitte in his chauvinistic place—given a superficial women’s lib slant.

That summing-up will either be a recommendation or a dismissal, depending on your susceptibility to such things. But if you’re the kind of person who leafs through those trashy novels while standing in line at the check-out stand—just to kill time, of course—you may find yourself lured into the world of Until September.

First published in the Herald, September 1984

Nothing too special here, either as a movie or review. It’s a shame about Richard Marquand, who did Brit-TV work and a fine job on Eye of the Needle; he completed two more films, Jagged Edge and Hearts of Fire, before dying at age 49 (of a stroke, according to IMDb).

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