Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Françoise Fabian, Marie-Christine Barrault, Antoine Vitez
Written by: Eric Rohmer
Directed by: Eric Rohmer
MPAA Rating: PG
Language: French, with English subtitles
Running Time: 110
Date: 06/13/2018

My Night at Maud's (1969)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Maud Squad

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Eric Rohmer's best films were largely about the intellectualization of emotion, with characters feeling their way around relationships via their tumbling, thoughtful words. The third in Eric Rohmer's "Six Moral Tales" series — though released after the fourth entry, La CollectionneuseMy Night at Maud's is more deliberate, more concrete, and less fluid than his later works; it's more a study than an observation, but it reveals a brainy filmmaker first discovering ways to appeal to the heart. New in town, Catholic Jean-Louis (Jean-Louis Trintignant) attends church and spots a pretty girl (Marie-Christine Barrault) across the aisle. Later, he bumps into an old friend, Vidal (Antoine Vitez); they talk about Pascal's "wager" about believing in God. Vidal invites Jean-Louis to visit a friend of his, Maud (Françoise Fabian). Talk of faith and love continues. It snows, and Vidal reluctantly leaves, but Maud convinces Jean-Louis to stay the night. They sleep together, without sex. But somehow the encounter emboldens Jean-Louis and he is able to speak to the mystery girl, as well as meeting again with Maud and flirting with her. Rohmer ends the discussion with a jump to five years later, on the beach. The black-and-white cinematography by Nestor Almendros tends to emphasize a kind of bleakness of exterior, and a spareness of interior, perhaps re-affirming Pascal, suggesting that color and wonder lie in another life.

Claire's Knee was next in the series.

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