My most recent Lovefilm rental was a film I’ve been dying to see for years: Two for the Road starring Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney. I can safely say that it did not disappoint and I remain baffled as to why it wasn’t more successful at the time, or why it hasn’t been re-evaluated as a classic in the years since. I suppose it is mainly a lack of familiarity; when was the last time it was shown on’t’telly?
One reviewer explained the possible contemporary drawback that Audrey Hepburn was a much more established Hollywood star in 1967, and someone like Albert Finney would have seemed a terrible upstart to have equal billing opposite her. It doesn’t help that his character is a dominant, aggressive, opinionated Alpha male, and she is as delicately beautiful and softly spoken as always. That isn’t to say that her character is a washout, far from it, but in analysing a marriage across its entire lifespan, you will certainly see the worst sides of both parties. And the phrase ‘a bit of an arse’ was created precisely for a man like Mark Wallace.
The rhythm of the film is deliciously undulating and swervy, which is dictated by the fact that it is a road movie and that it switches between several different time periods through its entirety. You see how the couple first meet, how they fall in love, how they survive youthful poverty, pregnancy, the changing fortunes of their lives (and how these, perversely, make them unhappier), their dalliances, how they seem to be falling out of love. In fact, it shows every nuance of a complex relationship in snippy vignettes from several holidays, each involving a long journey across France. You never see their home, but you really don’t notice and certainly don’t need to.
It is also notable for Hepburn’s wardrobe, which is provided by a host of swinging young designers (Foale and Tuffin, Mary Quant, Paco Rabanne, Ken Scott etc…) and perfectly places each time period. You know where you are when her hair is long, and her beatnik jumper is red, or when her hair is perfectly coiffed into a Vidal Sassoon cut and her clothes are mod perfection.
You’ll laugh, if you’re anything like me you’ll cry, and you’ll fall ever more in love with Audrey and Albert. There’s even an early Jacqueline Bisset appearance. Definitely a ‘must see’, in my opinion.