Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
Original title: Les Amants
France, 1958. Nouvelles Editions de Films. Screenplay by Louise de Vilmorin, based on the novel Point De Lendemain by Dominique Vivant. Cinematography by Henri Decae. Production Design by Bernard Evein. Film Editing by Leonide Azar.
Jeanne Moreau lives in the aristocratic country home of her boring husband (Alain Cuny) and, like all good women of the upper clutch, keeps a lover in town. When even he, the Brazilian polo player extraordinaire (José Luis de Vilallonga), isn’t enough to keep her from the discreet ennui of the bourgeoisie, she takes up with a handsome hunk who picks her up the night that her car breaks down while driving home to host a fancy dinner. Her husband has already well begun to suspect her affair with Villalonga, while hating her friendship with Parisian Judith Magre as he feels she accommodates his wife’s errant behavior, so he naturally won’t take too well to the news that Moreau has been inspired to change her life completely for the new guy. In description it sounds like the worst kind of romantic drivel, the sort of thing that Jules And Jim will look to ironically invert four years later with its more jaded ideas of sex and devotion. In the hands of Louis Malle, however, it’s a vibrant and classy exercise in sexual tension and spiritual awakening, its ripely erotic scenes (which at the time got the film denounced) as extraordinary as the ways it carries you through the mundane moments it describes.
The Criterion Collection: #429
Venice Film Festival Award: Special Jury Prize (tie)