I wasn't particularly impressed with John Schlesinger's Darling. Although it was nominated for five Oscars and won three, the film seems uninspired and bored with itself which leaves the viewer feeling bored as well.
The film revolves around Diana Scott (Julie Christie), a beautiful young model trying to work her way to the top. Diana is married to a man who she likes, but feels is too immature. She is obviously getting bored with him, and as soon as the older and more mature Robert Gold (Dirk Bogarde) comes around you know her marriage is close to the end.
Robert is a television journalist who reports on such intellectual subjects like literature and the people's view on the moral state of London. Robert is married as well, and has children who he loves very much. However he cannot resist Diana's beauty or her love of life, and soon leaves his wife to start a new life with Diana. Unfortunately, it's not too long before Robert and Diana's relationship is on the rocks as well.
Diana has no concept of fidelity and will seemingly have an affair with anyone who she thinks can help her in her career. That person at this point in the picture is Miles Brand (Laurence Harvey). Miles is an important man within the fashion industry, and has many connections within the entertainment industry. Of course it's not long before it's evident that this relationship won't work out either.
As the film continues, we come to realize it's really the standard plot where the central character is a beautiful yet promiscuous person. They seem to be living the wonderful life, but end up finding themselves depressed and alone. It's been done time and time again, and they will keep doing it probably until the end of time. Darling makes an attempt to tackle such social issues as adultery, homosexuality, abortion as well as others but it doesn’t fare too well. It’s just not daring enough, even for the time period.
Now don't get me wrong, I don't think Darling is a bad film, it definitely has its upsides. Frederic Raphael's script is pretty good, it could use a little more tongue-in-cheek comedy to let you know that they aren't taking themselves too seriously but it certainly has its moments. One scene that really stands out as well written is about two-thirds through the film right after Robert has found out Diana has had an affair; there's really some great dialogue there. Shades of John Schlesinger's directorial talent come through as well; he really does a great job of contrasting the big city and the country. However if I were to recommend one of his films it wouldn't be Darling, Midnight Cowboy is a far superior film.
Julie Christie may have won an Oscar for her role in Darling, but I certainly don't think it was deserved. Her acting seems rather wooden and uninspired and she seems bored with her role. Her performances in Doctor Zhivago and the more recent Away from Her show that she is a lot better of an actor than she shows in this. The only actor who really seemed like he or she cared about their role was Laurence Harvey, who puts in a very good performance as Miles. I don't think I would recommend this film, unless you're a John Schlesinger completest. Overall 2.5/4 Stars Grade = B-