Have any of you read those famed “romance” novels? You’ve probably at least seen them on the shelves. The ones with the half naked men and women in a provocative embrace? That’s what The Other Side of Midnight is. Full of plenty of unrequited love, nudity, sex, and passion–not to mention plots of murder–this novel based screenplay is an interesting nomination.
Noelle Page (Marie-France Pisier) is a young French girl whose piggish father tells her that her beauty and body are the only things she has to offer the world. He essentially sells her off to a shop keeper, where Noelle is expected to do more than tend the cash register. She escapes to Paris where penniless and possessionless, she is is rescued by a young American pilot named Larry Douglas (John Beck). He takes her in, feeds her, beds her, and when his orders come in he tells her to buy a wedding dress and he’ll be back for her.
But he never comes back. Noelle, still pursuing fashion as a career, soon finds herself modeling and then acting. Knowing that men only want one thing, she takes her father’s advice and uses her body to get the roles she wants. She rises to fame quickly and once one of the wealthiest men in the world takes an interest in her, she leaves her director beau fairly quickly for a life of luxury with the Greek Constantin Demeris (Raf Vallone).
Larry, in the meantime, has married and is finding it hard to hold down a job since in the end of the war. Noelle discovers this and offers him a job as her personal pilot in Greece. Not knowing she is the girl he once ditched, Larry and his wife Catherine (Susan Sarandon) move overseas.
Of course Larry will eventually find out who Noelle is. She has loved him ever since the beginning and no money or spouse can stand in her way.
The movie is outlandishly long. The story begins during World War II but you hardly know it. Occasionally there are swastikas, but that’s as close to the action as we get. This may be because Noelle is distinctly indifferent to anyone else’s suffering than her own, or it may just be an awful choice from the original author. You decide.
Although Noelle was indeed slighted, once she begins to see herself as little more than sex, she loses all strength and is no longer a powerhouse woman. She is presented as someone intelligent who only takes care of herself, however she comes across as easily used and lacking in a lot of things, most importantly self respect.
Catherine is everything that Noelle should have been. She is strong, intelligent, supportive. She has an amazing job in the city but moves to Greece to support her husband. Although she will do anything to keep their relationship strong, I do not see this as a weakness. She has a drinking problem but leaves it before she would leave Larry.
Larry is the most unattractive, weak, and grating character the movie can produce. He is amazing in the beginning, but he seems to lose everything with the war, and in my opinion he never gets it back.
The movie is too long, the ending makes the entire film pointless, and the third act is so different from the first two that I almost stopped watching entirely. The cinematography is boring, the editing isn’t much, and the story line is far from special. I do not recommend it.