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Model Shop is a 1969 film directed by Jacques Demy.

Gary Lockwood, cinematically best known for getting murdered by a computer the year before, plays George, a would-be architect. The only problem is that George is reluctant to design gas stations and strip malls and the kinds of things just-starting-out architects might be expected to do, having visions of grand creation. As a result he is broke and unemployed and living in the beach cottage owned by his girlfriend Gloria, a model and aspiring actress who is tired of George's shiftlessness and suggests that they break up. George is also facing the prospect of being drafted into The Vietnam War.

If all that weren't depressing enough, the snazzy convertible he bought with money he didn't have is going to be repossessed the very next day if he can't come up with $100. While out and about visiting acquaintances in an effort to scrounge up the money, George sees an exotically beautiful woman in a white dress walking down the street. He follows her to a mansion in the hills. A few hours later he sees her again in the street and follows her to an entirely different destination: a seedy "model shop" where attractive young ladies take their clothes off and horny dudes with cameras take pictures of them. Eventually he finds out that the woman, a Frenchwoman named Cecile (Anouk Aimee) who strips under the name "Lola", is a lonely divorcee who's trying to get the money to return home to her teenaged son in France. The two lonely people form a tentative connection.

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One of only three English-language films directed by Demy, who is better known for French musicals. Reeks, reeks of The '60s.


Tropes:

  • Bikini Bar: Averted. While Cecile never takes off her underwear during her photo shoot with George, it's simply because he doesn't ask her to; the photos on the walls prove that the girls in the model shop will get naked if asked.
  • Cam Whore: Possibly the Ur-Example of a trope more commonly associated with the internet. Gorgeous women pose for creepy dudes who take their pictures.
  • Chinese Launderer: The place next the model shop is "Wing's Hand Laundry".
  • Coincidental Broadcast: Whenever George hears the news on the radio, it's never about how the Lakers or Dodgers or doing, never about the stock market or traffic on the freeways. Nope, it's always about the progress of Vietnam War peace talks.
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  • Downer Ending: George breaks up with Gloria. Cecile, as she told him she would, heads straight to the airport and leaves for France (she was already packed). As we see George talking on the phone with Cecile's roommate, his car is repossessed. And in a couple of days he's going to be inducted into the army.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: 24 hours from one morning to the next.
  • Fanservice: Gloria spending most of the first scene in her underwear, Cecile stripping to her underwear during her posing session with George, other half-naked women inside the model shop.
  • The Last DJ: George's problem, in that he's fixated on grand creative architectural work and can't lower his standards enough to get a paying job designing, say, an office building. Similarly, when Gloria's excited at the prospect of getting a part in a soap commercial that's going to involve her clad in nothing but suds, George sneers that other actresses get their starts doing Shakespeare.
  • Love at First Sight: George is telling Cecile that he loves her within hours of their first meeting. Cecile says "It can't be very serious, can it?", but later apologizes, and obviously is forming a bond with George by the time she's spilling her whole life story to him.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Gloria's bedsheet is securely fastened under her armpits during an early scene, whereas George lounges shirtless.
  • Rom Com Job: Architect. Just the kind of thing for a frustrated young man filled with grand dreams, as opposed to, say, ditch-digging or pizza delivery.
  • Shout-Out: Catherine Deneuve, who starred in Demy films The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and The Young Girls of Rochefort, is on the cover of Le Monde sitting on Cecile's coffee table.
  • Significant Background Event: As George is having his melancholy phone call with Cecile's roommate in the last scene, we can see through the front window his car being towed away in the street.
  • Title Drop: Cecile poses at a sleazy "model shop".
  • The ’Verse: Many of Demy's films were interconnected. Anouk Aimee's story of being a nightclub singer in France and meeting an American sailor is the plot of 1961 film Lola, which starred Anouk Aimee playing the same character she plays in this movie. She says her husband left her for a lady gambler named Jackie Lemaistre; the character of Jackie Lemaistre is the protagonist of 1962 Demy film Bay of Angels.
  • Woman in White: Cecile draws George's attention when she's sauntering down the street in a stylish snow-white dress and matching head scarf, which draws a dramatic contrast with her sunglasses and dark brown hair.
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