Murmur of the Heart (1971)


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Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Lea Massari plays the wife of gynecologist Daniel Gelin. Virtually a child herself at the time of her wedding, Massari forms a strong bond with her youngest son, Benoit Ferreux. Feeling as though they're being bullied and belittled by the rest of the family, mother and son are perhaps closer than they should be. When Ferreux, suffering from a heart murmur, is sent to a mountain spa to regain his health, mom Massari goes along.

Rating: R
Genre: Drama, Musical & Performing Arts, Art House & International, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Louis Malle
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 28, 2006
Palomar Pictures International



as Clara Chevalier

as Charles Chevalier

as Laurent Chevalier

as Father Henri

as Augusta

as Aunt Claudine

as Uncle Leonce

as Father Superior

as the Mother

as the Mother

as the Mother

as Disquaire

as Maitre D'Hotel

as Man at Bastille Day ...

as Father Henri
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Murmur of the Heart

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (6)

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 20, 2008
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 21, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Murmur of the Heart

Everything about Le Souffle au Coeur felt familiar to me. Louis Malle managed to make a film that plays like a memory, like something you would remember from more than thirty years ago.
Late 1950s. Laurent belongs to a bourgeois family in Dijon. His mother is an Italian refugee, a sort of Sophia Loren, dazzling and free-spirited in love and motherhood. His father is a stern man, profession: gynecologist. Laurent loves jazz, particularly Charlie Parker, and literature, especially Albert Camus. His two older brothers are reckless, constantly annoying him -although within a certain complicity-. They introduce him to household mischief, tobacco, and girls, express radical political opinions at the dinner table, and seize every opportunity to get drunk.One day, Laurent falls sick with a "murmur in the heart" and has to go off to get a 'cure' in the country. There he must confront many issues that he can no longer ignore with the excuse of 'childhood', including sex, jealousy, and his atypical relationship with his own mother.
All of the performances are incredibly natural and accessible, and although some characters can be very annoying their credibility makes them wonderful. This is all thanks to the fine script, based loosely on some of Malle's personal experiences, like Au Revoir les Enfants. The film is written so consistently that even the most scandalous of conclusions happens in an unaggressive way, as though all along we'd been taught to comprehend. In the end I felt as if I had lived through the events myself and, in spite of its 2 hour run I never lost interest.
The art direction, music and cinematography envelop Le Souffle au Coeur in beautiful details and a golden light; there's always soaring jazz music, and no matter what is happening on the screen, there's a warmth and beauty and tenderness to it. And indeed the film takes on many uncomfortable subjects with great honesty; some of the content is actually very shocking and certainly taboo, even today. But as I mentioned, everything appears like a memory: something you can't change and can't help but look upon with understanding eyes. Not once is judgement passed or is a point of view betrayed. A real masterpiece of filmmaking, the perfect marriage of literary and visual narrative.

Elvira B

Super Reviewer

The father is a cold fish, the mother a passionate woman, and the three boys are largely uncontrolled and uncontrollable. Were french school boys really that loutish in 1954? For all of their bad behaviour, this was a captivating film. Interwoven with the comedy was a subtle political thread that offered a counterpoint to the main story line. Laurent is not sure what he wants, but knows that he is not content. The story moves slowly until what had to be a shocking ending when it was released, but seems cinematically tame by today's standards. And then it moves lightning fast. In the end, Laurent proves his manhood and is accepted into the company of men by his brothers and his father and with the quiet approval of his mother. Tender and sweet at times, it evokes a time and place unfamiliar to us, but is the better for it.

Mark Abell
Mark Abell

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic]Louis Malle's film, "Murmur of the Heart", starts out in 1954 in Dijon.(In the background, the guacamole is about to hit the fan at Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam.) Laurent is a 14 year-old budding intellectual with jazz(particularly Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, whose music plays wonderfully on the soundtrack) running through his veins. Even though he attends Catholic school, he is disenchanted with religion. His father is a gynecologist, his mother dotes on him and his two older brothers are troublemakers who constantly tease him. One day, Laurent spies his mother getting into a car with a strange man...[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"Murmur of the Heart" is an enjoyably provocative movie about coming of age that thankfully does not pass judgment on any of its characters. At the beginning of the film, Laurent is shown to be a constant reader and that most of his experience is from books, especially from what he knows about sex. That will change. The movie takes a very playful view of sex and in that it is daringly risque.[/font]

Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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