Near the begining of Carey Mulligan’s star making performance as journalist Lynn Barber when sixteen years old in 1961 London, Carey is lying on the floor smoking a cigarette and singing along to Juliette Greco’s “Sous le Ciel de Paris”. The song is an accordion powered waltz and Greco’s vocal is a wonder. Carey sings along as though breaking the shackles of her provinvial middlebrow life. Greico lends herself to those feelings: her voice is robust and full like red wine and about as far as you can get from a Edith Piaf (don’t even talk about Francois Hardy!!).
In cinematic terms, and I would say in musical terms, it is a brilliant convergence of the three women at the cented of “An Education”. The writer Lynn Barber who wrote the memoir it is based upon and emerged from the dead end world of post-War England to forge a career all but disallowed to women and to Carey Mulligan who comes from a different time and finds herself between two pioneers: Barber on the one hand and Greco on the other hand.
Juliette Greco’s mother was a part of the French Resistant and so was Greco. She was even arrested and would’ve been in serious trouble if she hadn’t been too young. Anyway, she wasn’t and after the war became of the bohemian underground andfriendly with the likes of Miles Davis and the briilliant film director Jean Cocteau (if you have never seen his La Belle et Le Bete watch it –you’ll be astounded. Greco appeared in a Cocteau movie and began in a career. By the late forties she began singing professionally.
Greco’s two songs are the highlight of the An Education soundtrack but there are several other wonderful songs. The obvious, Mel torme, Brenda Lee, Percy Faith. The off side, Billy Fury, the Hunters. And the what the hell are they doing their, Duffy and Melody Gardot.
But the real revelation is the dovetailing of the three stories. As a postscript. Carey is on the road to stardom, Lynn is a famous writer and Juliette just released her latest album and played four nights in Paris.
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