One can see why Carax would put this on his list of favorite films. The first two thirds are regular melodrama from the era. But that last part is so fleeting, you can recognize the same urge in his ‘Mauvais Sang’.
That part is ‘Badlands’ meets ‘Pierrot le Fou’ meets ‘Bonnie and Clyde’. If you know those three films, you know they similarly meet each other. It is an escape by car with no destination. Part of the seduction is how willingly the woman goes about it. All in the name of love, a sort of unself-concious, pure, cinematic love. She has close friends that help her situation, one of them a cop! Someone with his own reservations and with another kind of pure love that is ultimately compromised for her desires. A tragic generosity.
The police eventually catches them (and they die), but the essence in that voyage warrants suspension. You know she is love. You know he is no good. But it’s bigger than that. Her commitment is to their story.
Sylvia Sydney is a real actress. I’m not familiar with her other work but I’ll look into it. They ask her to play naivety but she outsmarts them by overlaying deliberate commitment. It’s still only one thing (two in this case), but for the era, it was more than what you usually got for your money!