Destination: Southern France
Book: Audrey Hepburn, A Charmed Life by Robyn Karney (2012)
I’ll wager that this road trip movie is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. And you may not have seen it, because while Audrey Hepburn is associated with smash hits like Gigi (on stage), Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Charade with Cary Grant, Two for the Road was obscure, playing for a time in art houses.
Some believe it was her best acting job, although she also had challenging roles in The Nun’s Story and Wait Until Dark. Whether you like the non-linear plot line of Two for the Road, you must admit that playing a woman at two very different stages of her life is more challenging than most of her other roles. It also is different because it contains the only true sex scene that occurs in any of her movies. She was known to turn down movies that dealt in violence or required her to take off her clothes.
In Two for the Road, a prosperous married couple are traveling in the south of France, driving an expensive sports car on a high-class road trip to the home of the husband’s client. That trip brings up memories of how they met on a hitchhiking road trip. From there the film bounces to a disastrous road trip with an incompatible couple with a bratty child, and back and forth between the bickering marriage of today to the carefree days of youth.
The tone varies from romantic, to comedic, to deep sadness, and reconciliation.
Watching the film is challenging if you like a simple, straight-forward story line. However, any travel will be longing to take a Southern France road trip, stopping at the movie locations, listed in Wikipedia as:
- Beauvallon, Drôme, France
- Cap Valéry, France
- Château de Chantilly, Chantilly, Oise, France
- French Riviera, Alpes-Maritimes, France
- Grimaud, Var, France
- La Colle-sur-Loup, Alpes-Maritimes, France
- Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, France
- Port de Nice, Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, France (ferry disembarkment sequence)
- Ramatuelle, Var, France (Dalbret villa scenes)
- Restaurant Leï Mouscardins, Rue Portalet, Saint-Tropez, Var, France
- Saint-Tropez, Var, France
- Étangs de Commelles, Coye-la-Forêt, Oise, France
I learned more about the making of the film in a newly released biography of Hepburn. For instance, she was thirty-seven in the film, and had to portray her own age, plus a younger, virginal self of 18 or 20. She and her husband Mel Ferrar were having marital problems, and her rapport with Albert Finney both ads poignancy to the movie and led to rampant rumors at the time.
The large photo book biography, Audrey Hepburn: A Charmed Life fills in the whole story of the elfin star who never failed to charm. What young woman did not sigh over her fashionable clothes, her sophistication mixed with innocence as she floated effortlessly through Paris, Manhattan, and other corners of the world? Reading this book, you will come away understanding things you never suspected about the charmer. (Read more about the book in my review at Reel Life With Jane).
After some early forgettable roles, she got her break-through role in Gigi-– hand-picked for the role by French novelist, Collete. Robyn Karney captures the rough spots of her life as well as enumerating all of the important directors and fellow actors who helped Hepburn along the way. Thus we get a balanced picture of her life and understand better how someone so beautiful and so successful could constantly be worried about her looks and her performances.
Audrey Hepburn: A Charmed Life is a newly published version of an earlier book that as far as I can see is identical except for a change in publisher. If you have A Star Danced: The Life of Audrey Hepburn, you do not need this new one.
However, if you are a movie fan, and particularly if you are one of those little girls who yearned to be as thin and as glamorous as the world-citizen , Givenchy-wearing Audrey Hepburn, you’ll want to try to win this book with its great story and lavish photos of Hepburn and other celebrities.
Note: There are Amazon Associates links in this post which allow you to benefit A Traveler’s Library when you shop at Amazon. It does not cost you extra, but you will be supporting your favorite website.
Photos of France are from Flickr, used with Creative Commons license.