Le Grand Amour (1969)

PIERRE ETAIX

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB

, 1969. , , . Screenplay by Pierre Étaix, . Cinematography by . Produced by . Music by . Production Design by . Costume Design by Daniel Louradour. Film Editing by .

Pierre Etaix makes his first full-length feature film in colour and leans more heavily on dialogue and plot than his more conceptual earlier works, but still delivers deliciously subtle and satisfying laughs in this very amusing comedy. As a young man he keeps company with a few delightful young women before deciding to marry the one who most seems like the marrying kind, the daughter of a factory owner whose parents consider him bought and sold the first time he comes over to meet them. Ten years later, he and the missus are content in their upper-middle-class existence, he going to work regularly and she keeping a beautiful home waiting for him when he finishes. Local gossips almost ruin things for them but the error is quickly straightened out, then real trouble arrives when Etaix’s retiring secretary is replaced by a dewy young beauty with whom he immediately falls in love. Indulging in endless fantasies about running away with her (including a very inventive dream sequence involving vehicular beds), Etaix seriously considers upending his peaceful and uneventful life for the adventure of romping around with this perfect young woman. The characters are all easy to recognize and there’s nothing complicated about the set-up, but Etaix uses familiar iconography to truly ask questions about our commonly accepted definitions of love, commitment and satisfaction, always with an understated, satisfying but never smug confidence.

Cannes Film Festival:  Official Selection, 1969

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