Friday, January 21, 2011

Les Amants

It's the third film in the Louis Malle box-set. Jeanne Moreau is living in a loveless marriage with a wealthy newspaperowner.

It's a bit hard to care about people who have servants, no matter how unhappy they are. When Moreau starts having an affair with a poloplayer I was just about to stop the film and move on to the next. But then, on the way back to Paris her car breaks down and she meets a younger student who drives her the rest of the way. They have a conversation, he makes a joke that makes her laugh, and she comes to life for the first time in the film. The rest is pure movie magic, Moreau's face is poetry on the screen. It's hard to understand that this film, from 58, was once considered shocking, even obscene. In a Hollywood film there would have been some form of punishment, death probably, but in this film they drive happily off into the future. There's still some ambiguity, though, if the happiness can last.

It reminded me a bit of the ending of The Graduate, a very romantic, triumphant ending, with Dustin Hoffmann breaking into the church, snatching his girlfriend right in the middle of the wedding and then escaping on a bus, but how can things ever go up from there? They can only go down, and in my mind at least, for that film, there's an epilogue 20 years later where she curses him for doing it, she could have been happy, and look at them now.


  1. I'm glad you didn't go with your first feeling and turn the movie off partway through! As I mentioned on another of your posts, I really enjoyed this film. Moreau's performance is truly breathtaking.

    I never thought about the connection to The Graduate before. I don't think Les Amants is so overtly cynical as that movie, but that cynicism could still be there...I'll have to watch it again with that in mind.

  2. I didn't mean to say that there is much of a connection between those two movies; it was mostly a comment on happy endings on film, how in my mind at least they're often a bit hard to believe in. So it's probably me who is the cynical one, not the film!