Directed by Max Ophüls, The Earrings of Madame De… follows Danielle Darrieux’s aristocratic Louise as she impulsively decides to sell a valuable pair of earrings and subsequently covers up the sale by pretending to lose them – with this decision paving the way for a midsection revolving almost entirely around a tedious love triangle. Ophüls delivers an admittedly intriguing opening stretch that benefits substantially from an emphasis on eye-popping visuals, and yet, even during its comparatively engrossing first act, The Earrings of Madame De… suffers from an arms-length vibe that’s perpetuated by less-than-compelling performances and an almost total lack of emotional resonance (ie it’s all just so stiff, especially the performances). The somewhat passable feel takes a drastic downward turn as the picture slowly lumbers into its uninvolving and off-putting midsection, as scripters Marcel Achard, Annette Wademant, and Ophüls offer up a run-of-the-mill melodrama storyline that suffers from a progressively distressing lack of momentum (ie there’s nothing here to get wholeheartedly or even partially engrossed in). And though the narrative builds to an unexpectedly grim (and comparatively captivating) finale, The Earrings of Madame De… has long-since confirmed its place as a lifeless, all-too-theatrical period piece that’s hardly able to engender the lush, romantic vibe that Ophuls is clearly striving for.
*1/2 out of ****