The timing for “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” to return is doubly right. A digitally restored version opened at the Brattle on Christmas Day and runs through Monday. Next year marks the 50th anniversary of Jacques Demy’s legendary musical, which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, and the final sequence takes place at Christmastime. As spun-sugar holiday treats go, “Umbrellas” is hard to resist.
The movie sounds like nothing special in outline. Geneviève, 17, works in her mother’s umbrella shop. She loves Guy, 20, an auto mechanic, who loves her right back. Guy lives with his godmother — a reminder that we’re watching a fairy tale. Except that reality intrudes. Guy’s draft notice arrives. The year is 1957, and this being France, he’s off to fight in Algeria. That’s not the only bit of seriousness in the movie. There’s also a funeral, two marriages, and two births. Change a few particulars, and the plot could belong to hundreds of other stories — and millions of lives.