Tagebuch der Geliebten [Affairs of Maupassant] (1935)

Tagebuch der Geliebten
Director: Henry Koster
Writer: Henry Koster, Corrado Alvaro
Based on: Marie Bashkirtseff‘s journal
Cast: Lili Darvas, Hans Jaray, S.Z. Sakall, Attila Hörbiger, Anna Kallina, Etha von Storm
Seen on: 16.2.2021

Plot:
Marie Bashkirtseff (Lili Darvas) is a promising and ambitious painter. Under the tutelage of her friend and mentor Bassieux (Attila Hörbiger) she has grown better still, but when Bassieux asks her to marry him, she declines – she’d rather focus on her career. Taking Bassieux’s advice to visit the poorer quarters of the city to make her paintings more naturalistic, Marie ditches her companion Doctor Walitzky (S.Z. Sakall) and is off for an adventure. But adventure also spells a little bit of trouble for her – fortunately a charming young gentleman (Hans Jaray) comes to her aid. Marie doesn’t realize it’s the famous Guy de Maupassant (who also happens to be Bassieux’s nemesis), but it doesn’t keep either of them from falling for each other hard.

Tagebuch der Geliebten is fun enough to watch as long as it doesn’t try to be romantic. Unfortunately, it tries to be romantic a lot.

The film poster showing Marie (Lili Darvas) talking to Guy (Hans Jaray).

The film chose a very interesting woman as its protagonist. Marie Bashkirtseff was not a name I knew before I watched the film, but I found her very intriguing, at least in the film version. Her ambition, her willfulness and her determination came across loud and clear and gave her more space than female characters often get.

Unfortunately the film doesn’t seem to know what it has in her and decides to instead invent a love affair with Guy de Maupassant that ends in the most dramatic way possible (Bashkirtseff died very young and the film felt the need to make that even more tragic) – and that after Maupassant behaves like an ass almost the entire time, telling her that it’s wrong to be ambitious, lying to her face and generally suckiness. Jaray is very pretty though – so much so that when he first appears in a very short moment, I actually thought: “You’re too pretty for a supporting role, we’ll see more of you.”

Marie (Lili Darvas) in a melancholic mood, supported by the family friend Doctor Walitzky (S.Z. Sakall).

Despite the romance doing everything wrong for me and me wishing we got a more straight-up biopic, I did enjoy watching Tagebuch der Geliebten (that title – literally: Diary of the (female) Lover – alone should have been a warning of what angle the film pursues). Darvas is really good and gives Marie the necessary charisma for the role.

And the film is certainly entertaining and has good pacing. With a different framing of the story, I am sure I would have loved it. But as is, I can only be mildly enthusiastic about it.

Marie (Lili Darvas) painting.

Summarizing: okay.

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