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film

The Model Shop 1969 by Jacques Remy

Arrested Development in the Vietnam War Era

George, played by Gary Lockwood, is a lost guy in his mid-twenties. He went to a good school, Berkley and became an architect. Then he found a job in LA and moved there from his hometown of San Francisco. Seemed like a good start to adulthood, but he let it all slip away, and now he lives in a very small house close to the airport with his stunning girlfriend Gloria, played by Alexandra Hay. The two of them feel like opposites, like two worlds about to clash. George has no direction in life, everything feels pointless and anhedonia has eaten his inside and spit it out.

But non the less, in a few moments of honesty he will tell you that he still wants to be something and create something of significance. But to become a great director one needs years to build a reputation. At first, he gets the sense that George doesn’t want to invest that much time into his career, but that is just a slight of hand by Demy. To save his old car from being towed, he goes from friend to friend, asking for 100 bucks. We think that is the only sword hanging above his head, but then again, it is just another slight of hand by Demy. Finally accomplishing his goal, and with 100 borrowed bucks in his pocket he drives around town, but notices a beautiful woman. He follows her to a stunning mansion that both he and we think is her house. Restless he keeps driving around town and meeting with friends. Finally, we figure out what is wrong with him. George doesn’t think he has a future. The Vietnam war is still going on, and he think she will be drafted. In his mind it is an inevitable fact. That’s why he doesn’t plan, or get a job or work hard. To him its all pointless. Because deeply in himself, he knows and feels that he will be drafted, spend a few years there. That is, if he is lucky enough to survive. There isn’t’ really a point to anything, when death, something he hasn’t thought about previously, feels so close and inevitable.

He notices the woman through the window and follows her again to a sleezy looking model shop, where men take photos of models. He decides to try his luck and meet her. The mysterious woman spends a couple of minutes with him, taking photos and leaves. The photos cost 12 dollars which means he will need to find more money or his car is really getting towed this time. His last desperate attempt is to ask his mother for more money, but what he gets instead is a conversation with his father. His father informs him that he has been drafted and that he needs to get back home by Monday. With his desperation hitting new depths, he returns to the woman for another photoshoot. This time they have an actual conversation. She tells him about her divorce and how it desolated her. She’s been in the States illegally for a few years now, saving money to fly back home to France to be with her son again. Much like George, she hasn’t been living over the last few years. While she did make friends, the goal of returning to France stopped her from creating any substantial connections here in LA. They spend a night together.

George gets back to his place to pack, losing his girlfriend and car in the process. He phones Lola, his mysterious hookup, but her roommate tells him that she is already gone. With tears in his eyes, George promises to try and live a full life once again.

LA is such a big part of this movie. Both George and Lola see it as something beautiful, with George even saying there is poetry in this very outline. The city feels alive, bustling with life even. If it was an organic organism, cars would be its blood cells. Large part of the movie we see George driving his car throughout the town. Cars in this movie have this omnipresent feel about them. One can’t help but ask oneself, can you exist in LA and not have a car. Walking doesn’t seem an option, which explains the lack of true transcendent art being created in LA.

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