'Coach': highbrow, lowbrow, eyebrows

November 04, 1992|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,Film Critic

"The Golden Coach," which opens today for a nostalgic two-day run at the Charles, is many things, some good, some bad, but it is indisputably the eyebrow movie of all times.

During its hundred minutes, you will see a whole NBA game of eyebrow moves -- they squiggle, they loft, they arch preciously, they separate in befuddlement, they collapse in rage. Astounding! Incroyable!

All this eyebrow-shucking is in service to the great French director Jean Renoir, who directed this stagy but charming tribute to the Italian commedia dell' arte in 1954, and to the great American director Martin Scorsese, who underwrote the striking of a restored 35mm print so that the movie might be appreciated in all its Technicolor glory.

Set in a Spanish province in South America about 1800, the film chronicles the simultaneous arrival of a golden coach, representing the most majestic of Old World delusions of aristocratic grandeur, and an acting troupe, representing the clamor and squabble of democracy. And of course there's Anna Magnani, star of the show, representing womanhood eternal. And nobody represents womanhood eternal better than La Magnani, magnificent and throbbing with passion and ardor, her sloe-eyes abrim like the very cusp of Vesuvius boiling with

orange lava. And eyebrows out to Pluto and beyond!

The plot is one of those farcical things that involves a lot of doors being opened and shut and revolutions and affairs occupying the same dramatic weight, and Magnani manipulating her fleet of wannabe-lovers up and down and around. It's driven forward at a dynamic pace by the music of Vivaldi and Renoir's glorious humanism.

The Golden Coach'

Starring Anna Magnani.

Directed by Jean Renoir.

Released by Original Cinema.

Unrated.

***

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