Joan Fontaine – “Letter from an Unknown Woman” hits theaters on February 9. The opportunity to (re) discovers on the big screen and in a restored 4K version this tragic romantic drama by Max Ophuls worn by Joan Fontaine and Louis Jourdan.
Letter from a stranger or one-sided passion
” When you read this letter I might be dead “. It is almost with this sentence that opens Letter from a stranger, directed by Max Ophuls in 1948. Before that, we follow Louis Jourdan, elegant in the skin of a rich pianist. Back home after an evening like any other, he greets his servant, goes to freshen up before discovering this message which awaits him.
Going through those first minutes by his side before hearing that first sentence of the letter, the film puts us in the same situation as the character. In a feeling of carelessness that immediately gives way to the concern caused by such a letter. These are only the first minutes, and yet Max Ophuls has already managed to place the overwhelming stakes of this superb romantic drama.
Freely adapted from Stefan Zweig’s short story, Letter from a stranger then stage Joan Fontaine in the role of Lisa. Still a teenager, the young girl will immediately fall under the spell of Stefan, a young pianist destined for great success, but who, for the moment, hardly notice it.
Time will pass. Lisa will grow and force her meeting with Stefan, allowing them to live a passionate romance. Corn Letter from a stranger is above all the story of a love story spread over fifteen years and which never came to an end. The story of a missed encounter and the regrets that flow from it.
Joan Fontaine tragic face to Louis Jourdan
Almost seventy-five years after its release, Letter from a stranger hasn’t aged a bit. The film is wonderfully led by Joan Fontaine, then at the height of her career, and a lucky Louis Jourdan, who replaced Jacques François at short notice, because the latter was too late to come to Hollywood. Above all, in its themes, the film, which deviates on many points from the short story (in particular to better suit Hollywood), never appears old-fashioned.
All the force of this realization of Max Ophuls lies in the tragic character of Lisa. An obsessive lover, silent but devoted, faced with the too limited interest of her lover. She becomes a kind of ghost who, through this letter announcing a disastrous destiny, finds as much a tool of expression than revenge understood (and accepted) then by Stefan and the spectator in the last moments of the feature film.
Letter from a stranger is to (re)discover in theaters in 4K restored version from February 9.