In Focus: The Oliver Peoples Odd Couple

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Published March 2, 2010

 

There are precisely three things that Garbage singer Shirley Manson and actor Elijah Wood have in common: they’re pale, they’re ethereal, girls and gays love them. The similarities pretty much end there. Wood will forever be known to the public as Lord of the Rings’ trying, bite-sized protagonist Frodo while Shirley remains the 90s rock icon that made girls apply Sharpie as eyeliner. To bring the disparity between these two into focus, consider 1997: it was the year Manson topped the charts with “Stupid Girl” and Wood played a starry-eyed Artful Dodger on the television adaptation of Oliver Twist. Manson was 30; Wood was 16. Generational differences aside, their mutual fey beauty captured the imagination of the ad wizards at Oliver Peoples, the vintage-minded eyewear brand that also once hired sprightly Zooey Deschanel to model their wares. For their sunny Spring 2010 print ads, Oliver Peoples cast Manson and Wood as a posh, champagne-sipping couple in a series of glamorously retro vignettes shot by Autumn de Wilde. Those were fun, but de Wilde’s digital short film accompanying the campaign is far wittier. Officially “launched” yesterday, ‘Les enfants sennuient le dimanche (The children are bored on Sundays)’ is a superbly campy trip into the realm of the fabulously lazy.

In the two-and-a-half-minute long clip, Manson and Wood grandly loaf about the lawns, pools, and drawings rooms of a California estate, looking bored and elegant. A bespectacled Wood channels Alfie, Wooster, and every pampered, golf-loving playboy who ever tee’d off from a Baccarat champagne glass–as he does on multiple occasions here. Manson, meanwhile, has a romp embodying the sort of prim estate heiress she no doubt reviles in real life; in her cat-eyed shades, she dabbles in the domestique, dancing the foxtrot, sitting in tubs, and coyly tempting Wood (still golfing) from a pool. Soundtracked by Zee Avi’s breezy “Just You and Me”, the Gatsby-esque affair has the radiant feel of a mid 1960s flick portraying the lifestyle of the 1920s leisure set. It’s more fashion and attitude than narrative, which is what makes its tone tartly pleasurable as opposed to annoying. The film’s mild aloofness threatens to break at the “climax,” wherein Wood and Manson make out, rather awkwardly, in a pool. Luckily, Manson’s reliable sangfroid keeps Wood in line, and the film ends innocently with a peaceful picnic shot. All in an afternoon’s toil for a rock star and a hobbit.