Darling (1965)

Julie Christie created one of the indelible images of Swinging London in this disapproving yet glamorous look at a fashion model ascending the social ladder.

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“There is something of Diana Scott in almost every modern woman who is interesting enough and interested enough to speculate about the meaning of her existence.”
Andrew Sarris, The Village Voice, 1965

A billboard poster fund-raising for starving African children is pasted over with an advert for a fashion model’s tell-all memoirs. In this wordless opening, John Schlesinger’s drama sets out its seemingly critical stance towards London’s glitterati.

Thanks to Julie Christie’s mesmerising, Oscar-winning presence, however, the film then swoons over its plush international lifestyles as its somewhat vapid heroine seduces her way to a fortune. This unresolved ambiguity makes the film a key document of the moment London’s Swinging Sixties hit their peak, while also rendering its storytelling rather problematic in retrospect. Still, its portrayal of elastic morals, homosexuality and even a Parisian sex party marked a watershed in the acceptance of permissive subject matter within the cinematic mainstream.

Julie Christie played far more sympathetic objects of desire in Billy Liar (1963) and Far From the Madding Crowd (1967), both directed by Schlesinger.

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