L' Ennui (1999) - Rotten Tomatoes

L' Ennui (1999)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Cedric Kahn directed this erotic French drama about sexual obsession. Separated from his wife, Martin (Charles Berling) is intrigued when he sees an elderly painter with plump teen Cecilia (Sophie Guillemin). When he later learns that the man has died, Martin meets Cecilia, and asks her intimate questions about her relationship with the painter. Martin begins a passionate affair with the detached Cecilia, who offers only monosyllabic responses to his detailed probing questions. When Martin learns Cecilia is seeing a man much younger than himself, his full-bloomed fixation pushes him over an emotional precipice, and he begins following her everywhere. Shown at the 1998 Montreal Film Festival.


Alice Grey
as Cécilia's Mother
Maurice Antoni
as Cécilia's Father
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for L' Ennui

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (2)

A solid achievement.

Full Review… | June 5, 2003
Combustible Celluloid

Never gets more than skin-deep into its characters.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Film Journal International

While emotion runs high, the movie runs out of dramatic steam too quickly.

January 1, 2000

Audience Reviews for L' Ennui


[font=Century Gothic]In "L'Ennui," Martin(Charles Berling), a philosophy professor, has not had sex in the six months since he got divorced from his wife Sophie(Arielle Dombasle) in the hopes that he can now focus on writing a book. It's not working. What he does instead is drive around the seedier parts of town, eventually coming upon a bar where Leopold(Robert Kramer), an artist, cannot pay. Martin rescues him by paying his tab and accepts a painting as collateral. Three days later, he returns the painting only to discover that Leopold has died in the interim, finding Cecilia(Sophie Guillemin), a 17-year old model and lover of Leopold's in his place.[/font] [font=Century Gothic]"L'Ennui" is a graphically sexual movie about obsession that gets tedious long before the drawn out conclusion. No matter how good a performance Charles Berling gives, there is no getting away from how truly tiresome Martin is. The simple truth is that he thinks too much and his being a philosophy professor cannot excuse this(we are all philosophers). He was most likely responsible for driving away Sophie and cannnot totally put his old life behind. At the same time realizing that he is too old and wrong for the much younger Cecilia, he cannot get away from the hot sex. By contrast, Cecilia just goes along with the flow, simply agreeing to whatever is suggested.[/font]

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

L'Ennui was a frustrating movie. The lead character was so unsympathetic, which can be fine in a film, but he was too obsessed with this girl, getting to a sick degree. His violence, including raping her at one point, are the worst. Most disturbingly, Cecelia appears to enjoy the rape in that scene. Sophie Guillemin who played the girl Cecilia was nice to look at, with or without clothes. The sex scenes were not explicit. He claims that she's not a good lover, but he's the one who appears to be terrible. She seemed to have a free love sexuality, which he could not handle. It's hard to understand why she stayed with him so long. Overall, it was also a provoking movie, with frustrating romance. If you can handle these kind of characters, it's worth to watch.

Daisy  Maduro
Daisy Maduro

Super Reviewer

Non-Francophones may confuse 'ennui' (also an English word) with existential emptiness where it is also boredom, apathy, inertia. When one side of a sexual-romantic relationship displays such ennui, the imbalance is explosive. This film rips into this premise at express train pace. In fact, the film ends in a physical and figurative car wreck. There are movies we know are for mature audiences. Usually this is confused with nudity or sexual content, and rarely (for the US at least) with violence. Yet another criteria to separate out films not meant for naive audiences: something which exposes the hollow heart of things we hold dear, like romantic love. There is obsessive love - love which damages and corrodes us. Relationships that are inherently unfair and irrational because we love someone more than they love us, because they choose to share their love, or because they are incapable of love at all. But yet irresistible. Such love is destructive. Watching this film does things to notions of love. It's difficult to sympathize with the actors, but it is possible to find their situations credible. Excellent acting and taut direction ensure this film never lets up from the start. There is much attention paid to the craft of cinema: pacing, shot framing, cues and the building of atmosphere through tinting/lighting, and off-camera dialogue. Most of it works for a change. Surprisingly effective, for a film with just three characters. Highly recommended.

Arin D
Arin D

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