Les Deux anglaises et le continent (Two English Girls)(Anne and Muriel) (1971)
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Among the great François Truffaut films, Two English Girls is likely the least known. Its story of a romantic triangle inevitably invites comparison to Truffaut's Jules and Jim, and not surprisingly, as both are based on novels by Henri-Pierre Roche (the only two novels Roche authored). Truffaut regular Jean-Pierre Leaud is Claude, the Frenchman who on a turn-of-the-century trip to Wales with his mother meets the Brown sisters, Anne (Kika Markham) and Muriel (Stacey Tendeter). Anne is a sculptress and more outgoing than Muriel, who is a teacher. Over the next 20 years, affections between Claude and the sisters shift, but consummation of any romantic feelings is often blocked by distance, a pair of very strong-willed mothers, and the conventions of the time. Claude becomes an art critic, and the trio each has to express blocked passions in his or her work. Disappointed by the mild reception that greeted the original version of the film, Truffaut determined to restore over 20 minutes of footage to the film, a project he completed just before he died in 1984. The posthumously released, full-length version rounds out the characters and their motives and makes Two English Girls worthy of comparison to The 400 Blows, Jules and Jim, and Day for Night in the Truffaut filmography. ~ Tom Wiener, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for Les Deux anglaises et le continent (Two English Girls)(Anne and Muriel)
It's wonderful how offhand Franois Truffaut's best films feel. There doesn't seem to be any great effort being made; he doesn't push for his effects, but lets them flower naturally from the simplicities of his stories.
A film of such beautiful, charming and comic discretion that it isn't until the end that one realizes it's also immensely sad and even brutal, though in the nonbrutalizing way that truth can sometimes be.
[A] bittersweet tale of love imperfectly expressed and passion unwisely spent.
Georges Delerue's lovely score and fine performances by Markham and Tendeter keep another one of Truffaut's narcissistic escapades...watchable, but just barely
The pace is leisurely in this bi-coastal love triangle and coming of age story
Audience Reviews for Les Deux anglaises et le continent (Two English Girls)(Anne and Muriel)
"Two English Girls" has obvious ties with "Jules and Jim," the well-known classic which preceded it by nine years. Both are directed by Francois Truffaut. Both are adapted from novels by Henri-Pierre Roche. And both concern love triangles (two women and a man in one, two men and a woman in the other). But "Jules and Jim" was contemporary, while "Two English Girls" is set in the early 1900s.
Claude (Jean-Pierre Leaud, inevitably) becomes friends with an Englishwoman named Anne (Kika Markham), and is invited to stay at her family's mansion. There, she introduces him to her younger, redheaded sister Muriel (Stacey Tendeter). Anne is warm and open, while Muriel is serious and religious. Muriel also has a recurring problem with sensitive eyes, which never quite becomes the crucial plot point that we anticipate. This does give her an excuse to wear tinted little sunglasses that give her a modern, Bohemian flair -- not a bad marketing move for the year 1971.
The three become close friends. Anne initially tries to play matchmaker for Muriel and Claude, but both sisters end up falling for him. Time passes, and feelings swish back and forth between the trio. Claude eventually has an affair with Anne in Paris, but the bond between him and Muriel always seems deeper. There is little rivalry between the sisters -- just a sense of them wanting to politely avoid hurting each other. But Anne continually tortures herself with repression and self-denial. None of the characters are particularly likable, and It's clear that their story must end sadly.
"Two English Girls" is a beautiful, languid film which stretches to 124 minutes without caring much whether every scene moves the plot forward. This is not an unpleasant tactic, however, and it only makes the story flow more naturally. Granted, the refined atmosphere is somewhat prissy -- the most intense feelings are communicated with letters rather than face-to-face confrontations -- but some late, passionate sex helps roughen up the tone. Another deviance occurs around the 90-minute mark, when Muriel makes an extended confession about masturbation that, for better or worse, seems wildly out of place. It's hard to even watch with a straight face -- especially given that Tendeter is not much of an actress.
Truffaut's delicate touch stays out of the story's way, except for one odd move: his frequent use of iris shots to conclude scenes. It's a rather unsubtle way to emphasize the nostalgic setting, and I wish he had made a less jarring choice. But "Two English Girls" is among his best films, all the same.
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