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  • jsobre-17 September 2008
    As a twenty-something, I saw this film with my boyfriend of the time, and as soon as it was over, we rushed home to do it ourselves. In the early-to-mid sixties, "Les Amants" was eroticism that was certainly explicit--albeit tastefully explicit, to our naive eyes. Made when Malle was twenty-five, with the young Jeanne Moreau, to the romantic Sextette that Brahams wrote when he was 27, this was the perfect sexy romance for its time and place.

    I just saw it again, now watching as a sixty-something in an age in which "Les Amants" would probably get an R rating--and a tame one. I'm jaded too. It's hard to feel much sympathy for a desperate housewife of the upper middle class as she battles ennui. But the love sequence is still a knockout. You can't stop to think about it as the lovers, who as yet barely know each other except for their terrific physical attraction, go from garden-to-boat- to bedroom; it's still erotic in its implication. the garden is too lovely to be true, the boat is white and clean, and Moreau wears her pearl necklace throughout, but the message of a woman who has only known pedestrian sex being introduced for the first time to the Real Thing rang a bell with me (I had a similar experience, minus the garden, the pearls and the boat). I sat there bawling my head off-- with nostalgia this time for an unrecoverable experience-- through the whole sequence.

    But the ending also rings true. What do you do when you come up for air?

    From one of the interviews on the CD, I learned that the plot was based on an 18th century story, and I can readily see that, just as could see the fin-de-siècle Viennese origin of Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut." In neither case does the contemporary updating of the tales make them any less effective.
  • zolaaar28 November 2005
    Warning: Spoilers
    What you see here is Jeanne Moreau's famous first filmic female orgasm and director Louis Malle's second feature film. Les amants / The Lovers was at that time a controversial study of bourgeois emptiness and sexual yearnings. The (as widely described) inscrutable Moreau plays a high society wife who is bored by her rich husband, has a lover, smart friends and a daughter. On one night she makes passionate love with a young student of a few hours acquaintance, and leaves it all for a new life.

    If it now looks too much like an angry young sensualist's movie, the combination of a body language that is highly pleasurable, the soundtrack of Brahms, and the Henri Decaë's velvety monochrome, ravishing photography proves hard to resist. Her second collaboration with director Malle shows once more, what a wonderful screen persona Moreau is: commanding, willful, sultry.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Wait a minute. Did Les Amants really get into the trouble it did because of the love scene in the last half-hour? The scene in itself is nothing. However, here we have a married woman in the 1950s, committing adultery not once but twice, and without remorse. If Vivant and Malle had told their tale the accepted way, the situation would have led to bloody murder, and given the grim coldness between Jeanne and her husband, that's exactly what the audience expects. But - SPOILER: the authors opted for a happy ending. So of course they were seen as condoning adultery. Violence, it seems, would have been no big deal by comparison...

    Happy ending? Well, not quite. Les Amants is odd in another respect: while it is all about the transforming potential of falling in love, it idealizes the process far less than most so-called romantic comedies do. As the blissful couple purr out of the picture in Bernard's 2CV, we hear a sage voice-over comment on the uncertainty of their future. This echoes the background of the opening credits, a fictitious map of the land of love, depicting (as far as my memory serves me) a river named Affection, passing through many little hills such as Respect, Dedication etc., far from the Lake of Indifference, and flowing to a Dangerous Sea and to Terra Incognita. In this sense, there's more to the story than "beautiful socialite meets handsome young guy". This is no fairy-tale. It's about stuff like living in the moment, openness, and courage - and about the archetypal meeting of animus and anima. Or should I say projection? Fuhgeddabahdit! Apart from all the crap I'm giving you here, Malle plus Moreau equals gorgeous movies. Go see for yourself.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Luminously inscrutable Jeanne Moreau gives one of her best performances in Louis Malle's "The Lovers" (1958:***1/2), a chic and entertaining romantic drama that was quite controversial in its day because of a prolonged love scene in the last half hour. Of course, today it seems very innocent, indeed. She plays the bored wife of a wealthy newspaper owner who impulsively decides to runs off with a young man who picks her up after her car stalls on the highway. Since the lover is played by a handsome young actor named Jean-Marc Bory (wonder whatever happened to him), who could blame her? Malle offers delicate hints during the morning after that the affair may not last too long. All-in-all, an exquisite film. The video version is letterboxed, too, which is a big plus.
  • In this, director Louis Malle's second film, which for awhile seems like it will be another high society soap opera, a seemingly arbitrary plot detour occurs that places the beautiful Jeanne Moreau in a situation all the less convenient and all the more frustrating because of how accustomed she has become to her privilege. Consequently, Moreau is less like a Sex and the City character and more of a realization that a social ladder does not leave problems below it. They follow you from decision to decision to decision. And the further up it she climbs, the less considerate her decisions seem to be of the world outside of herself.

    As a 25-year-old French director at the dawn of the New Wave, he was not alone in satirizing and criticizing the bourgeoisie. Ironically, being younger than fellow Nouveau filmmakers Godard and Truffaut, as well as having been born into a wealthy industrialist family, had no hand in blinding him by way of his privileged ego. Watching this biting romantic drama about adultery and the reality and illusion of rediscovering love, I see that Malle understood the upper-class freedom of never having to worry about tomorrow, and not only does he characterize it with an almost humorously frustrating edge, he wisely satirizes love at first sight.

    The movie was made in 1958, but Malle's style has yet to garner an expiration date. There are no outdated lap dissolves or screen wipes or quick fade-outs. The controversy at the time surrounding this film's alleged obscenity had a rebounding effect on the flimsy subjectivity of society's accusations. He was simply being honest, which he is in the aforementioned portrayals beyond the simple night of passionate love Moreau has with her lover. Instead of a coy imitation of a spectator blushing and looking away, as many other films did and still do when the camera moves to the window or the ceiling, Malle fixates on her ecstasy. Even now, rarely do we see a close shot of a woman's sexual pleasure.

    A bit like Woody Allen would come to do in a few decades, Malle tends to saturate his soundtracks with a single composer. Here, it is Johannes Brahms, whose music is a brilliantly and acutely intuitive choice for the film since, much like the characters, he has a classical sense of form and order yet he's bold in his exploration of harmony and rhythm.
  • bandw1 February 2015
    This is the story of Jeanne Tournier, a bored upper class woman who tries to escape her situation through romantic love. While it would be unfair to expect the depth of character development in this movie to match that in the similarly plotted novels "Madame Bovary" or "Lady Chatterley's Lover," this presentation seems particularly thin.

    Some half century on this movie has lost some of its punch. Apparently it was considered to be sexually avant-garde at the time of its release, but it would probably get a PG-13 rating now.

    There are things that make this worth seeing. As Jeanne Tournier, Jeanne Moreau does turn up the heat and her fans will want to see this. There is some nice black and white camera work. There are a lot of night scenes (filmed day for night, as Malle comments on the DVD extras) that are atmospheric and augment the intimate scenes.

    While the erotic scenes might not jar, a shocking thing even for contemporary audiences is the fact that Jeanne would take off and leave her child behind. Also Jeanne engages in two adulterous affairs without remorse--that would have had 1950s audiences talking, and some contemporary audiences as well.

    Thinking about the future of the renegade couple, I think it will not take Jeanne and her lover long to realize that she is taking her boredom with her.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Louis Malle's Les Amants is the most romantic film ever made. Screw subjectivity and critical judgment. I've just come off fresh from seeing it, and, in the spirit of the film, I'll let my excitement wash over me instead of letting it die down to see it coolly. Seeing it gave me one of those precious moments, moments where you gasp and go oh-my-god, disbelieving your eyes that cinema could go to places like this, and make you feel things you never felt were possible in fiction.

    Buried within the Optimum Releasing of the Louis Malle box set, but it emerges the most deafeningly romantic, even when compared to the already celestial ending of the more famous Elevator to the Gallows. Its blissed out view on happiness makes it impossible to attach any critical adjectives to it; it requires us to suspend all thinking faculties and just go with that one powerful emotion.

    It's amazing how it turns what could've looked like a cover of a chick romance novel into something this beautiful. Henri Decae, who almost single-handedly created the first images of the New Wave, literally sets the screen aglow in ecstasy, painting the two lovers in a heavenly light in that pivotal centerpiece, which is one of the greatest moments of cinema, bar none. Even Jean Vigo's L'Atalante holds nothing on this. (There will be spoilers from hereon, and I would urge you to stop reading this paragraph if you've not seen the film. The joy of discovery in this film is so much more than any other film I've experienced, that I'm wholly convinced that one should experience this as fresh as a virgin.) Stripped of their daily pretenses and graces, the two lovers traverse a God-made Eden, becoming simply Man and Woman and reuniting again, several millenia after the First Man and First Woman were expulsed from paradise. When Jeanne Moreau takes Jean-Marc Bory's hand and asks him 'Is this the land you created for me to lose myself in?', the gaze is sealed and the viewer can do nothing but share in their passion. The two lovers become such eminent symbols of love, sex, and happiness that it's hard to imagine anything more sensual and erotic than this, especially when compared to the fully colored and fully exposed sex symbols of today. They belong to an era removed from any other, not the era that the film was made in, but a black-and-white, pristine era that exists only in cinema, one in which true love still exists without the moorings of reality.

    And the decided lack of moorings in this film is what makes it so bewitching. Whether it's the fleeting white horse or the eyes of the beautiful beautiful Jeanne Moreau, the film doesn't look back, but indulges fully in the moment, that moment of sensuousness. It is so fitting that the film should be called Les Amants, because anything else would be pretension - the lovers become the lovers of any era, any millennium, by their love alone they have been elevated to the great lovers that have long passed. They transcend being, nature, rules and become one - spirits entwined - with a world that is beyond the tangible, such that any rational reasoning will not be understanding. It's a magical world, a fantasy world, a world that is as unreal as we want it to be real. And this world, the film proposes, can only be reached through a temporary moment of love, un-selfish, immaterial, illogical, and unquestioning love. And when you're able to give yourself in, together with the film, it suddenly becomes so clear and not that unreal anymore.

    At the risk of sounding like a nut, I just wanted to recommend this film to everyone who thought that this century has made us cynical. Cinema, which began and evolved with this century, has rarely stepped out of its time so gloriously that it becomes a monument, a structure of those classical (and probably impossible) days. It is the single most ravishingly beautiful moment in the history of cinema.
  • Crazy about French movies ever since I started watching them. The black and white is more appropriate than colour for French film, very captivating and unreal.

    What can you say about the French people? Desperados and aficionados of romance and love. Hopelessly romantics.

    Simple story told like a poem regardless of any moral criticism, there is no such thing call moral or immoral in the realm of art. Art is a rival to morality, it allows all sorts of existences. In this movie, the sin is adultery but no one cares to condemn it, the pursuit of love takes it all. The love scene might be stunning to the audience in late 50s France, but definitely not today. Jeanne Moreau somehow took a bold step. Anyway, she is radiating gloriously in superb cinematography.

    Jeanne Tournier married to a well-off provincial newspaper owner for eight years. She has a daughter, a polo-playing lover and a big bunch of acid-tongued snobbish Parisian friends. Nevertheless, she is bored about living in such a polite society. Finally when Bernard, a young student whom she has known just for a few hours, enters into her life, just after solely one night's time in her husband's villa with him, she decides to leave with him into the uncertain future the very next morning.

    Several lyrical scenes impress me a great deal. Their nightly accidental encounter at the garden. Jeanne is illuminating the dimness, she looks like a mystic fairy seducing Bernard. Another one is the astonishing look of her friend when she sees them leaving together. The most memorable is the very last scene, they drive and drive into uncertain.

    The map shown at the beginning and the voice-over at the end may be something like a warning. However, when two lovers in love that they can sacrifice everything for the romance in such a desperate fashion, nothing is threatening. Feminists or women who are fighting for their freedom would be clapping their hands she's got guts.
  • The bored and empty upper-class Jeanne Tournier (Jeanne Moreau) lives in a manor with many servants in the countryside of Dijon with her husband Henri Tournier (Alain Cuny) and their daughter Catherine. Henri is the editor of The Burgundy Monitor and has been married to Jeanne for eight years, but he does not give much attention to his wife. Jeanne travels frequently to the house of her childhood friend Maggy Thiebaut-Leroy (Judith Magre) in Paris to meet her lover, the famous polo player Raoul Flores (José Villalonga).

    One day, Henri suspects of the frequent trips of Jeanne to Paris and invites Maggy and Raoul Flores to have dinner and spend the weekend in his mansion. While driving back home from Paris, Jeanne car breaks down and the archaeologist Bernard Dubois-Lambert (Jean-Marc Bory) that is going to Montbard to visit a professor, gives a ride to Jeanne. Henri invites Bernard to stay with them and during the night, he has a love affair with Jeanne. On the next morning, Jeanne decides to go away from Henri, Catherine and Raoul with her new lover.

    "Les Amants" is the second film of Louis Malle and I can imagine the impact of this amoral story in 1958, with a mother leaving her daughter to seek true love with her younger lover. The muse of many filmmakers Jeanne Moreau is gorgeous and sensual in the role of a woman ahead her time needy for love and happiness. The cinematography in black and white is wonderful and the open conclusion fits perfectly to this sensual film. My vote is seven.

    Title (Brazil): "Os Amantes" ("The Lovers")
  • In 1959 this film was considered as something close to porno, but this is far enough from the reality. Jeanne Moreau was young, nice and attractive. She was the star of this film, which goes slowly as usual in French cinema's style. When you see this type of film you must become a psychologist to penetrate inside the brains of each hero and make some conclusions. Accordingly I concluded that life is not a straight line, suddenly something may happen in our lives that deviate completely this straight line. Formal ethics accepted by the society goes sometimes to extremes that does not enable the persons to behave and feel happy. What's wrong when the current life is disrupted to start a new one? At this point I advise you to see this old, and black and white film, which may compel you to think and to conclude something new, probably different to what I am saying here.
  • Paris in the 1950s. Film opens with Jeanne & Maggy, two glamorous high society aristocrats, watching a polo game, cheering the star player, the equally glamorous society page poster man Raoul Flores. Later, cozy snuggling between Raoul and Jeanne who, we learn when she goes home, is married to another man -- a prominent newspaper publisher, Henri. Over dinner, we observe quickly that Jeanne and Henri's marriage has been on deep freeze for sometime inside that capacious, ornately furnished countryside mansion. Henri, more or less convinced of Jeanne's affair with Raoul, insisted on having Jeanne invite Maggy and the polo player for the weekend. On her way back from Paris that weekend Jeanne's sports car breaks down. She's given a ride by archaeologist Bernard, definitely proletariat, definitely more comfortable studying rocks from diggings than at the polo field. Henri invites Bernard to stay for the weekend with Raoul and Maggy. At dinner Bernard shown to be an obvious outsider of this group. After everyone goes to bed, Jeanne wanders out into the night in her white, diaphanous nightgown, starting the forty-minute final sequence, the heart of the movie. This is the mildly sensuous moonlit epiphany for Jeanne that true love still can happen. (This sequence was deemed "shockingly erotic" in 1958 when the movie was released, becoming the main reason for calls for censorship, if not outright banning, in many countries). In a long sequence of lyrical black and white, day-for-night shots of shadows in the moonlight, a long walk on a vast field of shrubs and flowers, delicate embraces on a cozy boat floating unaided on a stream, Jeanne falls for Bernard's non-aristocratic, nonhigh-society, proletariat charms. Maybe it is the moonlight, or Bernard's open collar, working-archaeologist shirt, or his 2-cylinder mini-car, or the portentous bat that flew into the room when they were dining, but at the break of dawn, Jeanne decides to leave everything, including her sleeping daughter (another reason which shocked the critics and the Catholic church into condemning this movie) and drive away with Bernard into a new day aborning. (As far as I can remember this is the first movie I know where the central characters, at the fade-out, ride into the sunrise instead of into the sunset. One extra point for the then 25-year old Louis Malle). This movie has acquired its "classic status" for several reasons: It was a notable (and controversial!) work from a young director who was just starting to get noticed (Malle's fifth movie, his second for 1958). It portrayed succinctly the phoniness of the affluent as it showed a portrait of a woman confined within the rituals of her social status and then acting on her sudden feeling to get out. It presented a sex scene considered bold and shocking at that time (Jeanne's orgasm shown only through a close-up of her trembling hand is I think a clever idea from Malle). And it has Jeanne Moreau. (Although for me, anything with Jeanne Moreau is automatically on my personal "classic" list). Even by today's standards I think this is a very well-made movie if only for the subtlety with which Malle presented how these characters show the spectrum of their raw feelings. Moreau is "on every frame" (Malle's words from a 1994 interview) and perfectly so. She shows the build-up in Jeanne's simmering feelings so flawlessly, we actually feel the tension of when it's going to explode. Magre is pure delight as the fully-enjoy-the-moment Maggy. De Villalonga captures perfectly the unctuous charms of someone who's enraptured with his own image, endlessly watching and listening to himself in his own head. Cuny is admirably subtle in showing Henri as someone who has really stopped caring a long time ago, just enjoying watching these people make fools of themselves, eventually to choke on their own flirtations. Note his stiff indifference watching Bernard drive away with Jeanne. In the Moreau performances I've seen, I think this is one of her finest. In her every movie, the main tension is her eyes -- no one really knows what's going on behind that hypnotic stare. Love, passion, hatred, murder, tenderness, bewilderment? We always have to wait for the end of the movie. Some clever prefiguring clues Malle gives us: The bat flying in during their dinner causing a brief consternation -- their fortress has been breached, their aristocracy is not invulnerable anymore. Bernard's mini-car, slow but unstoppable in the highway -- stability, simple and quiet persistence. Bernard freeing the fishes from Henri's traps -- obviously about Jeanne. Excellent, luminous restoration from Criterion of this stunningly photographed black and white film by Henri Decae. Extras include two interviews from Malle and one from Jeanne Moreau. ##
  • Jeanne Tournier is a bored middle-aged woman. She lives in comfort with her wealthy husband, children and small army of maids and servants but yet she is not happy. Her husband is distant and spiteful while her relationship with a polo-playing lover has become stale and tiresome. Returning from one of her many "trips to Paris", Jeanne's car breaks down and she is helped by a young student who takes her back to her home where he is invited to join the Tournier's and their guests for dinner. He stays the night and quickly starts to peal away the layers of frustration and offer her something else if she is brave enough to take it.

    Although it probably says more about America than the shock value of this film, the fact that this was legally classed as "not pornography" brought it a success that continues to this day and was the main reason I decided to join those who had seen it by seeing it. From a content point of view I must admit that I found it hard to get into Jeanne as a character because the film did sort of expect us to accept her adultery and sex as part of her escaping and growing in some way – a thing that will not always be true, sometime people just cheat and there is no reason for it other than the most basic. However, unless this really bothers you, there is still much to enjoy in the character if not totally in the story. The plot is basic but the writing and delivery allows for enough to engage although, as I said, it may annoy as much as please, it depends on your point of view.

    Like her character or not, Moreau is certainly powerful and assured in her performance and she seems to really understand the complexities of her character – never judging or excusing anything to a point where it would be overdone. Her body language is as convincing as her dialogue and she is really a good reason for watching the film – hell, she almost makes you believe her character's reasoning and have sympathy for her (almost). The support cast are all good with similarly natural performances from Bory, Magre, de Villalonga and others; however the film belongs to Moreau in terms of performances. The other main reason for watching is the crisp and stylish direction from Malle and the wonderful black and white photography. Although it has long lost its shock value today, the love scene is pretty strong stuff considering the period.

    Overall this will not appeal to the masses because it is pretty slow and is all about complex inner issues that do not lend themselves to clear plotting, easy answers or pace. This is not to say that it can cope with these problems well, because it doesn't totally manage it and it does come off a little "up itself" in how it presents some of the issues but the direction, cinematography and acting all make it worth seeing, meanwhile the material will engage whether you are annoyed by it or sympathise with it.
  • I was never a Jeanne Moreau fan before this film. This is one of her best performances. She plays the bored wife looking for love with dignity, honesty and passion. The music by Brahms during the evening love scenes adds additional emotion to this film. I found the story line simple, yet compelling and refreshing.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This film is the story of a bored wife and mother (Jeanne Moreau). She lives in a lovely manor home filled with servants in the country. However, she is unhappy and her marriage is without passion. She and her husband sleep in separate bedrooms and she is bored with life. For a while, she deals with it by taking frequent trips to Paris--where she takes a lover. Yet, deep down, she's still bored. Then, out of the blue, she meets another man quite by accident--and they spend a night making love in her home--while her husband, lover and best friend sleep.

    Back in the late 1950s when it was released, this film created quite a furor in the US. Because of its amoral plot involving a married woman having multiple affairs and showing nudity, it was considered obscene by many and eventually made it to the Supreme Court several years later to decide on its decency. In a landmark case, it was not considered indecent and it led the way to more explicit films being shown in the US in subsequent years. When you see it today, however, you'd never suspect any of this, as the film has almost no nudity at all--and if you are seeing it hoping for some sort of cheap thrill, you are bound to be disappointed. I saw one review that said today it would get an R-rating--heck, I could even imagine it receiving a PG-13. Yes, times have really changed.

    As far as what I thought of the film, it's really a mixed bag for me. While some can look past the moral problems with the film, I couldn't. It wasn't that the sex scene bothered me--but that the main character seemed like a spoiled child. You see her put nothing into her marriage and instead of dealing with life responsibly, she screws around. It's not that she's immoral--it's more like she's amoral--with no compass to guide her or sense of responsibility or regret. And, the way the film is constructed, it appears to condone and possibly encourage these behaviors. It's sad, as the film ends on a happy note--like life will be great with her running off with a man she hardly knows. I predict in real life, in 97% of cases like these, the woman STILL will find herself bored and might eventually realize that much of the problem is within.

    Now aside from my moralistic views on the film, I cannot simply dismiss the film because I didn't like the characters (and now that I think about it, I didn't like a single one of them). Artistically speaking, the film was quite brilliant. Louis Malle managed to take a threadbare story and stretch it out to 90 minutes without it becoming dull. Great cinematography, music and acting really carried the film. And, I must add that although there is almost no nudity, the sex scene is highly erotic and exceptionally well made. It managed to make adultery SEEM quite beautiful. And, because of this and its importance to US law, it makes for a must-see experience for cinephiles.

    By the way, on the Criterion disc is an interesting special feature on the US release. While it's just various clips and a bit of text, seeing the posters and lobby cards for the American release was funny--and a bit sad. You'd swear that the film was MEGA-hot and full of hot, steamy sex based on these print ads--which it certainly is NOT. I am sure many seeing the film went home very disappointed.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A married woman (some years after concluding a successful affair, I might add) once lectured me that love was about commitment and being able to get on with one another. Perhaps, I thought. Except poetry – and perhaps French literature especially, gives the word a somewhat more vibrant texture. A meaning many of us will still maybe yearn for – and powerfully - in our heart of hearts.

    'Jeanne' in this film is played by Jeanne Moreau. Beautiful and sexy. She is trapped in a marriage of monotony. Husband is a successful newspaper publisher. Their Dijon country château is one of understated wealth. Industriously posh establishment, if you like.

    Jeanne visits her friend Maggy in Paris regularly. Maggie is trendy and superficial. She approves of Jeanne's affair with Raoul, a rather buff polo star. Unlike Jeanne's husband Henri (who, it must be said, is a boring old fart), Raoul is attentive and adoring. Society chic, if you like.

    Into the mix suddenly appears Bernard, an archaeologist. He hates Maggy's in-crowd – describing them as 'flavour of the day.' He is probably everything Henri would be if Henri had a life. (Henri has years of slaving in a publishing house. Plenty of money. Plenty of nice furniture. Including a wife.) \He politely welcomes Bernard, who has rescued Jeanne when her car breaks down.

    If this were a rom-com you'd guess the rest. Queue steamy sex with artistic lighting. And while Les Amants gives you plenty of what you expect, it also gives you plenty of what you don't. Unresolved moral quandaries – if you like, or not.

    It was the moral outrage – a married woman leaving her husband and children after a night of sex – that probably led to obscenity charges on its release in America in the late fifties. Far more than the momentary nudity. The latter seems mild today. Yet the film is as fresh as it was then. As challenging as it was then. And as beautiful.

    Les Amants is shot in immaculate black and white. The men playing polo. The exquisitely photographed French countryside. And a Brahms (Sextet in B-flat Major) leitmotif which both immortalises the passion and encourages us to attach importance to its emotional and aesthetic qualities. Jeanne's first world (with Henri) is dead and empty. Her second (with Raoul) is a pleasant distraction but shallow. Visually and verbally, Bernard connects to Jeanne in an altogether different way. He makes her work for it but then rewards her. Henri makes her work for attention but doesn't give it. Raoul showers it on her with no effort on her part.

    Bernard ignores Jeanne's 'damsel in distress' pitch when her car breaks down. "Engines and I don't see eye to eye," he tells her. Until Jeanne breaks out of her pathetic helpless-female stereotype he is uninterested. He makes her to laugh, comparing her husband to a bear. We see Jeanne making a determined effort with her appearance. Bernard's poetry wears her down. He fills her head with visions of how beautiful the night is – and then associates her vision with how he sees her. He awakes the divine in Jeanne – "Her angel's smile gleamed." The moonlight tryst sees light rippling through leaves onto water. Bernard frees the fish caught by Jeanne's husband's traps. He is freeing her spirit from her dark depths. His intrusion (like the bat and flies at the house) is first seen as a threat. But it is her freedom he acknowledges, that she has denied herself, that is too horrible to countenance. "Is this a land you invented for me to lose myself in?" she asks.

    Jeanne realises that the part of her she dreads the most is the only thing that makes her feel alive. "Her world is falling apart. A hateful husband and an almost ridiculous lover. The tragedy Jeanne thought she was in had become a farce. Suddenly she wishes she could become someone else." Readers may recall the not too dissimilar dilemma of Julianne Moore's character in The Hours. She leaves a husband and child and disappears to become someone else. In that story, no lover complicates the dilemma. She is simply suffocating. We are tempted to condemn Jeanne's action because of her night of passion. But she is similarly escaping from an impossible life. A duty to her husband, yes. To her offspring, of course. But isn't the highest duty to her own being, her own life? And it is not as if Bernard is a philanderer. He wants her for always. But instead of reassuring us that everything will turn out well, director Louis Malle realistically allows our protagonists to acknowledge that they face an unknown. They are well-suited – there is none of the narrative primitivism of, say, Women in Love. But Les Amants is a film of emotional and moral honesty. No wonder it shocked the bourgeoisie. And American values.

    The obscenity charges in the USA went to the high court. Justice Potter Stewart overturned them and made his famous pronouncement on pornography: "I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that." European films of this ilk helped to push the bland American film-making of the time towards greater artistic freedom. Les Amants established Jeanne Moreau's on screen image as a sexually independent woman. Her strong performance as someone responding to three very different life choices cemented her onward career.

    This is a film of courage, of a sophisticated beauty singing in tune with her own nature, rejecting the limiting values of industry and society. It is the story of a woman finding she is the equal of man – and finding a man that is her equal. The last portion is perhaps overly sentimental. But it is sentimental about the dark night of her soul. Not a disneyfied happy ending. If you are shocked after seeing the film, ask yourself why.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Jeanne, played by Jeanne Moreau, is a married mother and housewife in the provinces. Her husband Henri is handsome, successful, and cultured, but also an arrogant stuffed shirt who seems indifferent to her unhappiness. She has little to do and is lonely at home. To divert herself, she spends time with her shallow, trend-following friend Maggie in Paris. She begins an affair with suave high society polo player, Raoul, but is still unfulfilled.

    Henri invites Raoul and Maggie over and in the course of the night, makes the two of them seem ridiculous and sows discord between them and Jeanne. Raoul in particular is revealed as a lightweight whose dedication to starting a new life with Jeanne is destroyed by Henri's bourgeois solidity and ability to make their sham marriage seem real. Meanwhile, Jeanne has gotten a ride home after her car broke down by a young handsome archaeologist, Bernard. He is abrasive and immature, but also sincere and romantic, and the two fall in love. She is able to find happiness again in loving Bernard after years of boredom, but the future of the lovers is uncertain.

    Jeanne Moreau is brilliant at depicting a woman who is bored and unfulfilled, looking beautiful but not so secretly empty both in her fancy bourgeois house and in the childish diversions of Parisian fashionable circle. Alain Cuny as Henri is imposing and self-satisfied as her husband who doesn't take Jeanne seriously, feeling that he has the money and the power and is ultimately in control. Jose Luis de Villalonga as Raoul is convincing as a man who appears at first sophisticated and dapper but is actually weak and indecisive. Judith Magre as Maggy is somewhat overly comical as the shallow society friend. Jean-Marc Bory as the young lover is very handsome and with his physical presence and warm gaze and smile convey the ideas of sincerity, beauty, and natural masculinity that can spark Jeanne's happiness, although I felt that there was something lacking in his performance and chemistry with Jeanne to be totally convincing.

    There is something still impressive and challenging in the movie's depiction of Jeanne abandoning everything solid in her bourgeois life and even leaving the home where her child is growing up in a search for authenticity, love, and happiness. In particular, the film feels still shocking in its refusal to condemn Jeanne with the expected moralizing ending.

    The relationship between the two lovers, however, seems somewhat unmotivated and abrupt. Even though we know that Jeanne is very unhappy, and the stranger "represents" the sincerity missing from her life, nevertheless the attraction doesn't feel convincing, and it's even less clear why exactly Bernard chooses her. Bernard seems too good to be true, and one keeps expecting him to reveal himself as flaky and regretting his whim.

    Then, too, the attack on bourgeois society, in the person of Henri, could be sharper. If one is young and rebellious and inclined to dislike people like Henri, the critique might seem convincing. Otherwise one might find him relatively sympathetic - true, he is not as warm and idealistic as Bernard, but arguably his practicality, stability, and respectability have as much of a role to play in society.

    This is a good film that stands the test of time as interesting and worthy. Even if the sex scene in it is by no measure shocking nowadays, it still is challenging in its depiction of a passion that shocks convention. It's not at the level of later films by Malle like The Fire Within or Lacombe Lucien that feel more complex and realistic, but the focus on the feminine perspective gives it a special interest.
  • It is a shame that so many people dared to vote less than a 10 for this brilliant movie. All these voters should be expelled from imdb, and never be allowed to return.The images the director creates and the psychological portraits of the personnages are so meaningful to better understanding of what it means to be alive, that this movie should be obligatorily seen by all. Or better not, because the mass won't understand the message about freedom and incertainty. The mass wants certainty and plain truths, not incertainty and hesitation.
  • Can't believe in people giving a bad note to this film because it's wonderful! The last 30 minutes are unbelievable! My note is 10! Jeanne Moreau is gorgeous, very very beautiful. I believe the people must see this film again!
  • This is my first Louis Malle film and I found myself really quite disappointed. One of the other posters says that the theme is about freedom and uncertainty. I would agree with this, but to be blunt a better way to learn about the subject would be to listen to the Brahms' String Sextets without the film.

    Jeanne Moreau has been described in this movie as inscrutable, I'd agree with that, in this film we find out absolutely nothing of interest about her character, and I'm left perplexed as to the attraction Bernard had for her (purely libidinous?). The morality of the film is very confusing, certainly we can applaud Jeanne's existential urge to escape from her stifling fling, her marriage, and her Parisienne lifestyle, but the fact that she leaves her daughter behind is execrable. The woodland scenes are intriguing but a bit too contrived. If you want to see films about relationships I would suggest most of the oeuvre of Ingmar Bergman, which is far superior.

    All in all a rather insipid, though beautiful, mess. Deserves 7 out of 10 because it is provocative and like all good art, subversive.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Louis Malle had quite a running start in his mid-20's. Following the amazing noir feature Elevator at the Gallows- so hip and cool a film that Miles Davis himself did the score- Malle made The Lovers, a drama about a bored and unfulfilled housewife who has a one-night fling with a man she just met by the side of the road and decides to leave her husband and child for him. This is trivializing, of course, what is an incredibly potent and incredibly bittersweet tale that features a filmmaker so confident with his craft already that romance fills any scene that's required like a shotgun aimed directly at its target. When its at its best, The Lovers reminds us why we love watching people falling in love in the movies (or what the characters think in a moment of passion, as does happen in French films since they are some of the best at it), and as a kicker Malle adds a catch, something that elevates it from something more cynical in tone.

    The main character Jeanne, played by Jeanne Moreau, is married to Henri, who works well enough that she lives pretty much as a bourgeois. She also has a man on the side, a polo sportsman, and sees him from time to time at sort of programmed-to-be-fun locations like an amusement park. She's obviously unhappy, and one might find this looking at it today to look a little dated, like "oh, she's unhappy, she'll go find someone, I've seen this before." And, in fact, she does find someone else, or rather completely by accident or chance or whichever you'd be willing to pick. Her car breaks down on route to a dinner party with her husband and other friends, and a man, Bernard (Bory), a relative of someone in the bourgeois circle but not one himself, picks her up and drives her there. He is invited to dinner and stay the night, and it's here where we see the two have an incredible and deep connection.

    I should stop now since I've given away whatever sort of "plot" there is here. The Lovers is foremost a character piece, and Malle knows this so he makes it an incredibly rich film of character. We're not seeing just the basics of people like an unfaithful wife or hard-working and bitter husband or sweet woman best-friend to Jeanne or a stuffy Polo guy or even a dashing man out of the blue. There's a lot more nuance to it than that, more that's tucked under and given clarity by the little moments that threaten to shake everything up, be it just a fly in the room or a bat flying in through the window during dinner, or a mention of a time at an amusement park.

    One can have an moral problem with what Jeanne does, which is leaving her husband and child for a man she just met. Logically, it's absurd and wrong and all that jazz... but when it's filmed and presented like this, it becomes like a hyper-realistic tale, something that should be fantasy but is too real for these characters to pass off. Part of this is how it's filmed and timed. Henri Decae does the cinematography, and with one or two exceptions (in nit-pick fashion I spotted a boom mic in a couple of scenes that made me feel uneasy for such a highly regarded film, which of course passed), it's gorgeously filmed with light streaming in in that last third with Jeanne and Bernard in the garden and in the bedroom at night, given that hyper-realistic sensation that only happens in heightened romance in movies but made earthy and passionate because of the sincerity of the actors.

    The other part, I must mention, is Jeanne Moreau. She is one of the most captivating and desirable actresses in the past 50 years, but part of that is even as she is fairly young here (late 20s or just turning 30), something about her face looks older, more experienced in the world, weary. Maybe it's just for the character, but it's something about her that makes this and other parts she played in this star-making period so wonderful. Another actress might have made Jeanne look more unsympathetic. Moreau keeps us thinking about what her character may be thinking, disheartened by life and then rejuvenated by some possibility that terrifies her even more (watch her in the last couple of scenes, it's staggering work in the subtlest of ways), or if something with her character has made her react or feel a way that is only possible because she is playing it a certain way. There's magnetism to her here, which goes a great to making the "hot" scenes with her and her partner so memorable.

    It's precisely un-pornographic, as if I need to point it out following the Supreme Court's ruling that it was *not* pornographic precisely because the Judge "saw it as such", because of the filmmaker's connection and care for his characters even as they're doing possibly foolish and irreversible choices. It's liberating still 51 years later to see characters allowed to be this passionate and erotic on camera - whatever minor flaws, this has more love and lust going on than 2 dozen rom-coms in America as of late with usually not much regard to the way people actually react and think when thrown into romantic peril. At any rate, Happy Valentine's Day!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This represents yet another nail in the coffin of the new wavelet; released in 1958 it features everything the spoiled brats were rebelling against and as if that weren't enough it was shot by Henri Decae, who they liked to claim as their own, proving here that at heart he was light years away from their hand-held arrogance. Nice, too, to see Alain Cuny who seemed to disappear - at least from International screens - after Les Visiteurs du soir as the boring (to his wife) semi aristocrat owner of both a newspaper and a château, neither of which does much to scratch the itch afflicting his wife, Jeanne Moreau, which even the attentions of a polo-playing lover cannot assuage. There's some nice observations of the Old-Money set in their natural habitat, ravishing black and white photography and a set piece in a nocturnal wood that is the very antithesis of new wavelet novelty. It was the second time hand-running that Moreau had played an adulterous wife for Malle and if anything she was better this time around. Now it's available in a boxed set of Malle it may attract the attention it deserves.
  • hark-224 October 2010
    Warning: Spoilers
    This film looked like a winner until the two lovers put down their glasses at the watermill. What followed looked like a parody of Walt Disney. Jeanne Moreau looked like she was wearing ballet shoes as she fluttered along. And then came that boat scene. Ever laid down with a girl in a row boat? Bloody uncomfortable. Someone should ask her how she managed to deal with the back pain. But I was still holding on until the closeup moments later of Jean-Marc Bory. Strained, phony, downright hilarious. But then it got worse. After the lovemaking back in her room, they kept farting around when any other lovers in such a situation would have been somewhat keen to leave before hubby awoke. Not these two. They couldn't get past each other without endless clutches and expressions of "Darling". Just when I thought they were about to get the hell out of there, they clutched and emoted yet again. And again. And again.

    That said, Moreau has never been more hauntingly beautiful. Jean-Marc Bory was great early on with his laid-back, cynical disgust of the bourgeoisie. As a lover, he was a dud. And the final few minutes were excellent.

    As for Louis Malle, the only film of his that's moved me is "Zazie dans le metro". And that was a comedy.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    While Louis Malle was contemporary with the New Wave of the French cinema, he chose to use much more classical means of expression and is not considered to be part of movement. Yet, his films do have something different in their stylish approach to the life and romance of the French middle and upper class and this film is one of the best examples. He is closer to Bunuel than to Truffaut or Agnes Varda. Half a century after the controversy the film screening generated in the United States, half a century in which all taboos about representing sexuality on screen were broken, one wonders what is left of value in this film. The impression I was left with is pretty much mixed. The story has a level of simplicity and originality that I liked, with the bored provincial wife living a triangle life, but never satisfied emotionally and finding the true love by chance, in what we call today a one night stand. Yet all the nightly erotic setting seems unrealistic and the presence of a child left behind in the story leaves the viewer with a feeling of uneasiness. It is not that I am a moralist when it comes to judging movies, but the solution of what must be the harshest dilemma for a mother looks now and I believe looked then cheap. Jeanne Moreau is a fantastic actress and is at its best here, but the rest of the cast is far from her, with the exception maybe of Alain Cuny in the role of the husband. A few more style elements like using the music of Brahms or the love scene focusing on the face and ecstasy of the woman give the film a stylish look, but on the other hand the camera work did not survive well the passing of the time, or I may have seen a not to well kept copy and the off-screen commentary - probably from the 18th century original story that inspired the film - sound too didactic and non-cinematographic. Overall 'Les Amants' stays as a milestone in the history of the cinema but not necessary a good contemporary piece of entertainment for the viewer of today.
  • A curious film that in many ways, viewed today, looks a bit silly. Leaving your broken down car, doors open in the midst of nowhere, living in the lap of luxury with someone to look after child, household and cooking and worried only about weekend trips to see a lover and then taking up with another - and feeling hard done by. With regard to the ordinariness of the affairs and the acceptance that a husband is there to facilitate such behaviour is perhaps peculiarly French as is the tendency, as here, to bring a poetic almost child like quality into the romantic ideal. Whatever the basis for these elements a twenty-five year old Malle confidently and most competently brings them together so beautifully that we suspend our disbelief, particularly for the magical moonlight garden sequence as Moreau moves sensuously amidst the trees, the watermill and the little boat on the lake before we move inside for a daring episode upon the bed. Causing much consternation at the time in France and other countries it is necessary to pinch oneself and bear in mind this is the late 50s and yet we have nudity, off screen orgasm and a family left in favour of a new love. So, yes, looks a little silly now, here and there, but well worth watching for Moreau and that half hour or so of day for night magic.
  • valfedox9 March 2018
    Warning: Spoilers
    Louis Malle tells the story of a beautiful and bored young woman, Jeanne Moreau, who lives in Dijon and frequently visits Paris to mix and mingle with a crowd that might be from Fellini's La Dolce Vita for its emptiness and boredom. She has it all: her husband is a well established local newspaper publisher in Dijon, her lover is a Polo's playing would be aristocrat. When car trouble stops her return to Dijon, she is helped by a young and idealistic archeologist who drives a wimpy Citroen 2CV. After a painful dinner with her husband, her lover and the young idealist, she seduces the young man. The choice of music is perfect: Brahms Sextet No.1 in B flat Major, in its dark and sensual second movement. The protracted love scene is filmed in the outdoors (first) with a naive day-by-night filter. The love scene in Ms. Moreau's room is unique and a true novelty in mainstream cinema. Kudos to the Supreme Court of the USA when it ruled it was not pornography.
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