Thursday, March 01, 2007

Revisit: My Night at Maud's

A Pathé Contemporary Films 1970
Written & Directed by Eric Rohmer

Jean-Louis (Jean-Louis Trintignant), a devout Catholic, moves to a provincial town and vows to marry Francoise (Marie-Christine Barrault), a pretty blond he notices at mass. Vidal (Antoine Vitez), an old school friend, invites him to visit the recently divorced Maud (Françoise Fabian), and he ends up staying the night, having philosophical discussions in her bedroom. The events prompt Jean-Louis to persue his ideal lover.

My Night at Maud's was Rohmer's first big success and made him an international presence. The fourth installment of his Six Moral Tales, Maud's proves that long intellectual discussions can be just as cinematic as more obviously visual material. The film contains little physical action, but plenty of dialogue, contemplating mathematics, religion, and philosophy as related to Catholicism and 17th Century French Philosopher Blaise Pascal. A bit unsettling at first, the film really hits its stride midway as the characters take shape and become more than just platforms for Rohmer to spill his philosophical musings. We see them as real people, raw and conflicted, as their moral codes both hinder and dictate their movement. Witty, intelligent, and erotic, it's a film full of interesting ideas, in the least. If you can stomach the initial slow pace, it proves worth it in the end.

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