[[caption-width-right:320: What lies behind that endearing kookiness? It's [[YouDoNotWantToKnow better not to ask...]]]]

->''"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."''
-->-- '''Creator/RogerEbert''', in his [[https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/petulia-1968 four-star review of the film.]]

''Petulia'' is a 1968 film directed by Richard Lester, starring Julie Christie and Creator/GeorgeCScott. 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.


* TheSixties: 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.
* AluminumChristmasTrees: The [[http://reelsf.com/motel hotel built around a parking garage]] and Archie's [[http://reelsf.com/petulia-archies-apartment-interior Mid-Century apartment]] seem like sets created for the film to make ironic commentaries on America's infatuation with Modernism in TheSixties, but they're actual San Francisco locations that still exist today.
* AmicableExes: Archie and Polo ostensibly come across this way, but their love/hate feelings for one another lead to moments of tension.
* BeautyIsBad: Petulia's husband David.
* CallBack: The shots of Archie and his kids running around The Presidio are very reminiscent of Richard Lester's breakthrough films ''Film/AHardDaysNight'' and ''Film/{{Help}}'', not to mention two of the birds at the penguin show being named [[Music/RingoStarr Ringo]] and [[Music/GeorgeHarrison George]].
* ChekhovsGun: Due to the film's non-linear structure, characters, objects and even lines of dialogue that don't seem particularly important (or are even confusing) at first have their significance revealed later on.
* {{Cloudcuckoolander}}: Petulia.
--> '''Archie: '''I should explain about Petulia. She is a kook.
* DarkerAndEdgier: It can be thought of as a more downbeat San Francisco-based version of ''Film/BreakfastAtTiffanys''.
* DeadpanSnarker:
** Archie
--->'''Petulia''': I'm going to marry you, Archie.
--->'''Archie''': It's the Pepsi Generation.
** Strangely enough, the members of Music/TheGratefulDead who play extras in the scene where Petulia is taken to an ambulance also count.
--->'''Bob Weir''': Bye bye, mama.
--->'''Jerry Garcia''': Write if you get work!
* DidNotGetTheGirl: Ultimately [[spoiler:Petulia decides to go back to David]].
* {{Dramedy}}: There are some funny moments in the film, but it has quite a few ''dark'' moments as well. ''The New York Times'' called it "a romantic tragedy with comic detailing".
* EiffelTowerEffect: Set in San Francisco, so there are shots of cable cars, Alcatraz, Coit Tower and the Golden Gate Bridge (though the bridge is only seen in a couple close-ups).
* ManicPixieDreamGirl: Petulia fits the basic definition, but her portrayal is more like a deconstruction of the trope, showing the less-than-pleasant circumstances that can lead to someone developing that personality.
* NothingIsScarier: 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?
* ShipperOnDeck: Archie's colleague Barney keeps trying to convince Archie to get back together with Polo, mainly because his own marriage is in jeopardy and he wants reassurance that things can work out.
* StalkerWithACrush: Petulia and Archie both act as this at various times.
* UpperClassTwit: David.
* WouldHitAGirl: David (though it's kept offscreen).