Murmur of the Heart

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94%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 17

86%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,010
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Movie Info

This loosely plotted coming-of-age tale follows the life of 15-year-old Laurent Chevalier (Benoît Ferreux) as he stumbles his way over the burgeoning swell of adolescence in 1950s France. After having his first sexual experience with a prostitute and dodging the lips of a priest (Michel Lonsdale), Chevalier contracts a case of scarlet fever. When the fever leaves him with a heart murmur, Chevalier is placed in a sanatorium, along with his over-attentive and adulterous mother (Léa Massari).

Cast & Crew

Lea Massari
Clara Chevalier
Benoît Ferreux
Laurent Chevalier
Daniel Gélin
Charles Chevalier
Micheline Bona
Aunt Claudine
Henri Poirier
Uncle Leonce
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Critic Reviews for Murmur of the Heart

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (16) | Rotten (1)

Audience Reviews for Murmur of the Heart

  • Dec 13, 2012
    This is damn well-written. The characters are very rich. Louis Malle's direction is pretty much flawless. One of the best coming-of-age movies.
    Hugo S Super Reviewer
  • Sep 03, 2011
    Malle's jazzy dram-com is unlike anything you've ever seen. It's semi-incestuous undertone and the portrayal of adolescent sexual awakening may make this a hard film for some to watch, but to me it's just a joy to watch. It's one of the prime examples of why I think Louie Malle is one of the finest French filmmakers in the history of cinema. Up with Truffaut, Godard, Melville. I even might say he surpasses greats like Renoir, Bresson, and Cocteau. That is indeed a big deal considering the public opinion of those very fine directors.
    Alex H Super Reviewer
  • Nov 25, 2010
    <p>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.</p> <p>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.</p> <p>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.</p> <p>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
  • Oct 04, 2008
    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 A Super Reviewer

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