Film: Petulia

Richard Lester's "Petulia" made me desperately unhappy, and yet I am unable to find a single thing wrong with it. I suppose that is high praise.
Roger Ebert, in his four-star review of the film.

What lies behind that endearing kookiness? It's better not to ask...
Petulia is a 1968 film directed by Richard Lester, starring Julie Christie and George C Scott. Recently divorced Dr. Archie Bollen (Scott) and newly married socialite Petulia Danner (Christie) are both dissatisfied with their lives. The problem is that neither knows what it is he or she wants. Archie had a perfectly loving marriage until he chose to end it - why, not even he can tell. Petulia creates around her a frenzy of activity to escape something in her life.

The two embark on an affair as a result of simply another one of those inexplicable impulses that mark Petulia's decisions. Their different personalities - Petulia's whimsical intensity and Archie's gentle passivity - gives both a fleeting understanding of what it is they lack. However, that very combination of impulse and lack of resistance leads them to mutually reject their chance at a meaningful relationship.

Tropes

  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Petulia.
    Archie: I should explain about Petulia. She is a kook.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: An unusual, non-horror example. We wonder what's wrong with Archie. There must be a reason why he left his family. He can't have left for no reason at all...surely?
  • The Sixties: A common audience response is that Petulia doesn't feel like a film of the sixties as much as a film about or looking back at the sixties.