First of all, is there anyone who doesn't like old movies? How interesting that once you aged (yes, I am aged now), you start to wonder how did I refused black and white movies all this time.. Now, I can't stand to watch most of the contemporary films.. Anyhow, even if you’re not fan of the ‘old’, I think Brahms and Ingrid Bergman are enough to bring you here as most of us.
At the first sequence, after the main three character’s introduced, you will see the posters for Brahms concert. Ingrid Bergman walks by it, but the frame sticks with it and the title of the film appears next to it. Even if you don’t know the French title of the film, this moment is your hint that Brahms will be important. The soundtrack accompanies the opening; camera following Ingrid Bergman, Paula, and gives us a wonderful gaze of Paris streets is sounds like Brahms but actually it’s the soundtrack by Auric inspired by Brahms. Music continues until Paula reaches her apartment.
At a wonderfully act dialogue between Paula and her maid gives us the main theme: she is pursuing an unhappy relationship with Roger for 5 years who often ignores her and openly involved with other girls. Paula, denying she’s unhappy, tries to convince herself her freedom worths more than a marriage. However, she clearly longs for attention which she founds in 15 years younger Philip.
Philip desperately follows her and at one time that he cannot find anything else to offer, he notices the Brahms poster by her side and asks her if she likes Brahms. Dazzled by the question, she cannot answer easily. She says that no one asked her to a concert for 17 years. It was 17 years ago, when she was in love and listened wonderful music with holding hands, bur she is not sure if it was Brahms. She doesn’t even remember if she liked it, it was so long ago. She refuses claiming (and believing) she will be busy at the weekend with Roger. She is polite but seems annoyed by the Philip’s insistence, but she didn’t even remember if she likes Brahms. She’s not herself, she gave up what she likes long ago (hello, unhealthy long relationships).
Philip encounters Roger and sees him with one of his ‘Maisie’s’ and understands his infidelity. But this is not 2020 where you do anything to get what you want. Let alone telling Paula, he even didn’t suggest anything to her. When he lingers to open the switch behind her and she stressed out by it, he simply leaves a message that says ‘Sorry for yesterday. Do you like Brahms?’. That sentence becomes something that connects them. Than, her maid asks ‘what is that Brahms?’ She is a lovely character who is rightfully angry about Roger and has a higher awareness of what’s going on than Paula even though she has a limited English and didn’t even know what Brahms is. Because we can enjoy even the most complicated arts, but we are often ignorant when it comes to our feelings and desires. Paula makes her put a record and says ‘those are Brahms’ accompanied by the 3rd movement of 3rd symphony.
She arrives to the concert place and you can hear orchestra preparing for the performance (actually means she was late). When they encounter Philip says ‘I’m glad you decided you liked Brahms’ but she responds ‘’Do I? I don’t really know’’. Than we saw them at the concert, piece is 1st symphony’s last movement the section that he inspired from Beethoven’s 9 symphony (you can actually hear Ode to Joy). She sees two soldiers in front of her that reminds her the day she met with Roger. She’s not present, not with Philip, not with the concert; she won’t be able to tell if she likes Brahms, she don’t want to know. She force herself to remember the good times because something about Philip makes her question her worth in Roger.
During intermission Philip manages to piss her off simply by asking ‘does he love you’. They hurry back to the concert and it already started. Even though they just missed the bell, 3rd movement of 3rd symphony is playing. It is not believable that they missed 20 minutes of the 2nd half, but this tune matches the feeling Paula felt when she starts to question everything, so we let it pass by. As Paula summarised that she had 5 years of happiness, doubt, warmth and pain, but only the happiness matters.
Same tune continues to play via radio in Roger’s car. When his ‘Maisie’ asks ‘what is that’ in a shocked manner (as if it was a Schoenberg), he says ‘’it’s Brahms’’. Shocked girl confused how come he knows it and he says ‘the announcer said so’’. She changed the channel while asking ‘Do you like it’. It is a very disappointed thing for him to like Brahms. She couldn’t find any other channel and Roger asks her to put it back. He enjoys it, but he won’t open himself to a ‘Maisie’. But he confesses that he wanted to be a conductor when he was eight. He clearly doesn’t enjoy the company of Maisie, it was just physical.
She feels very lonely at the apartment when Roger finally turns back to her. When hearing she was at the concert, he immediately asks ‘Do you like Brahms’ and this sentence shocks her (it is an inside joke now), she surprised by this question coming from Roger. She starts to explain that she couldn’t remember if she liked Brahms and that turns into a burst of complaints. She couldn’t hold it any longer. ‘Do I like Brahms, what’s my favourite colour, do I love you’; yes, our theory is confirmed. Her lack of knowledge about herself - a basic question about Brahms was very connected to the fact that she didn’t care for herself, so that she could ignore her loneliness.
When she tries with Roger again and tries to push Philip away, he goes to a bar when we hear the jazz, vocal version of the opening theme (based on 3rd- 3rd), ‘Say No More, It’s Goodbye’. Followed by a ‘Love Is Just A Word’ sang by Diahann Caroll, improvised upon the conversation they have about the meaning of the word ‘love’.
When she finally left Roger and be with Philip, does she do it because she loves Philip or did she just exhausted for being ignored and attached to the first attention she got? She tries to change Philip from the beginning. It’s no surprise we hear ‘Say No More, It’s Goodbye’ tune again when she dances with Philip. This tune (3rd-3rd in general) associated with loneliness and goodbyes. The tune started before she saw Roger.
Yes, Roger missed her. He even loves her in his own way that will be never enough for Paula. But she still hopes, as any one of us. They got married, Philip is heart-broken. And we’re at the opening sequence of Paula getting ready enthusiastically and phone rings with the news of Roger not coming. Again the closing theme (composed by Auric), starts to play by a plunked string, gets the crescendo and closes with the whole orchestra as Paula stares herself, her life spent alone.