Patrice Leconte is a master in depicting sensuality. He is perfectly capable of extracting the sensual aspect of his characters even without resorting to nudity, like in "Le Mari de la Coiffeuse". His 1994 drama "Le Parfum d'Yvonne" [Eng. Title: The Scent of Yvonne] is by far one of the most romantic films I've seen of late.
The film is essentially a nostalgic voyage by Victor as he gazes at a fire in the middle of the night - only towards the end of the film do we get to see what he was gazing at. He reminisces his first encounter with Yvonne - a young starlet staying at the same resort as he by the shores of Lake Geneva. He fondly remembers their blossoming romance during that summer of 1958, when they decide to get married. The colours and sounds from these flashbacks are vivid but soothing, much like a fond memory, but we are aware in the back of our minds that this is all too good to last.
M. Leconte has skillfully captured the essence of nostalgia and made a memorable film indeed. Though this may not be his best work, it is nevertheless of a very high standard, both in terms of production values and interpretation. All the main actors give a fine performance, including the great Jean-Pierre Marielle who plays a gay 'Doctor'. Beautiful Dutch actress Sandra Majani plays Yvonne. It's a shame this is her only feature film to date. A special mention should also be made for the awesome soundtrack by Pascal Estève, especially his choice of mambo songs by Celia Cruz - the sumptuous selection is perfect for the film, considering the events shown happen around the late 1950's.
The scenes below were cut from a DVD, my Christmas present, and the transfer is very good. Highly Recommended Viewing!
I've combined three different scenes to make this segment. First is a romantic moment while Yvonne and Victor are watching a game of tennis. The second is at a party where barmaid Laurence Lerel gives a brief downblouse while serving them - Yvonne and Victor joke about it later, and then a striptease by a drunken party guest, played by Brigitte Petit. The third scene is simply beautiful. Yvonne and Victor take the ferry to cross the lake. Yvonne tells Victor she will give him a present if he answers a question, which he does. On the deck of the ferry, Yvonne reminds him of the present she promised, removes her white panties and hands it over to him saying, "...something to remember me by if I fall overboard." When they reach the other side, Victor graciously says, "Now that I have you safe and sound, I don't need these anymore", and drops the panty into the water. This scene is so tastefully done.
Victor and Yvonne then decide to spend the rest of the afternoon at a hotel nearby. Afternoon becomes night.
This is another beautiful scene when Victor reads a book about Queen Elizabeth I to Yvonne as he massages her. Also inserted a short sexy scene where one of Celia Cruz's mambo songs is featured.
Yvonne is invited to a party in honour of a contest she won. Victor watches as the patron gets too friendly with Yvonne while dancing, to which she doesn't seem to object that much. Their mutual friend Rene advices him not to take notice. Later when Victor asks her why she didn't stop the other man when he was fondling her bum, Yvonne replies that she was simply being nice to him. In the second part they visit Yvonne's family home and she takes him to the room where she grew up in. She says no boy had ever been there before, and invites Victor to make love to her. "For the last time," he says, "...until we're on the boat to America!”