My Night at Maud's (Ma Nuit chez Maud)

Critics Consensus

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95%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 20

87%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,377
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Movie Info

The "my" in My Night At Maud's belongs to the protagonist played by Jean-Louis Trintignant, a Catholic engineer whose struggle with his faith is renewed when he falls instantly in love with a woman he's never met (Marie-Christine Barrault) while attending mass. A chance meeting with an amoral old friend (Antoine Vitez) the same night places him in a potentially compromising situation when he's forced to spend the night with Vitez's alluring acquaintance Maude (Françoise Fabian), a sophisticated woman who challenges Trintignant's belief through intellectual and fleshly means. ~ Keith Phipps, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for My Night at Maud's (Ma Nuit chez Maud)

All Critics (20) | Top Critics (5)

Audience Reviews for My Night at Maud's (Ma Nuit chez Maud)

  • Sep 30, 2018
    I was quite bored for the first 25-30 minutes of this film, which is tedious in establishing its main character, shot in a neorealist style that overly elongates everyday activities (e.g. church services), and has dry philosophical discussions on the various opinions of Blaise Pascal. However, when a serious young Catholic named Jean-Louis (Jean-Louis Trintignant) is invited to join an old friend Vidal (Antoine Vitez) and his girlfriend Maud (Françoise Fabian) and the conversation turns to relationships, things improve, and it grew on me. It wrestles with the theme of balancing religious and moral convictions with the temptations of the flesh, as well as the decisions we make in life while selecting a partner. There is a refreshing lightness and maturity to the way in which these characters (and perhaps the French in general) treat love affairs. They are spoken of as anything else in life, there is understanding when someone wants to move on, and when a woman says 'no', it's respected, without further pursuit. Vidal leaves Jean-Louis alone with Maud for the night, knowing there is an attraction between the two, and it's interesting to listen to them talk about their views while she lightly flirts with him. In his view, she has two strikes against her - one physical (she's not a blonde, his preference), and one spiritual (she's not a Catholic). On the other hand, it's because there seems to be no chance of a relationship that they seem so happy and natural together. Their scene later in the snow is fantastic. Unfortunately, he's already become attached to another woman he's seen in church (Marie-Christine Barrault), who, while blonde and Catholic, seems less interesting and less sensuous, setting up an interesting choice for him. It's telling to me that despite his earnestness and apparent honesty, he tells each of them early on that he feels he's known her for ages. There is something devastatingly honest about hearing that, as we no doubt repeat ourselves in different relationships, and it can be read as being disingenuous, or as commentary that we can connect with many different people in life, and tend to do so, so that our final partner is somewhat arbitrary, even if influenced by certain principles. While parts of the film were slow and I wish the philosophical discussions hadn't been so specific to Pascal and Jansenism, I liked the intelligent, meaningful conversations these characters have. I also liked the street footage in the wintertime, during the Christmas holidays, which is clearly real and adds to the film's aesthetic. Françoise Fabian lights up the screen in her scenes, and plays the most interesting character, one I empathized with (divorced, single mom) and related to (more down to earth, and what I would call a spiritual atheist). The ending scene makes us both wistful and accepting at the same time. It's not a perfect film, or even one I would recommend without at least some reservations, but at the end I found I had liked it.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 05, 2015
    My Night at Maud's is a great film for those who like subtle romance where what is not said counts more than what is said. That said, this film is an easy one to mis-watch. There is a lot of talk about intellectual and theological topics, and it can seem as if the film is about that. Not so, most of the film you can get from how the characters carry themselves and how they interact; their words are secondary. Besides that, the talk is meant to be partly funny and partly serious; some of the intellectual talk is relevant to the theme, and some of it is intentionally pretentious. Indeed, the main themes of the film are pretension and predestination. (Which is interesting since even though the film is set back in the 1960s, French "designed" milieu feels as if it were modern and fresh and free.) Overall, the final product has a very nice, witty, and young feel to it. I rate this one up on account of some good characterizations, and the fact that the actress playing Maud is damn sexy with French charm -- well, that factors right in.
    Robert B Super Reviewer
  • Jul 24, 2014
    <b>Eric Rohmer's 3rd Moral Tale</b> --><i>Possible moral topic(s) treated:</i> The substitution of principles dictated by moral codes with irrational impulses that contradict them. Note: Although this gem was planned as the third moral tale, it was released after the fourth moral tale <i>La Collectionneuse</i> (1967) due to delay in production. In short, <i>My Night at Maud's</i> is a tremendous cinema masterpiece in all imaginable aspects. Jesus, how do I begin punching this damn keyboard? Ok, first. Rohmer's elements! Yeah, his elements. Ummm... A) Rohmer was known at this point for utilizing a literary narrative, in which a protagonistic voiceover narration would reveal what wasn't told or shown explicitly to the viewer. In the most purist tradition of voiceover narration, such is the main and only purpose of it: to speak what resides in the mind or is sufficiently unclear. In this case, Rohmer uses such technique just <b>once</b>, and only in the final minutes. I'll say why later. Another element of his is that he constructs morally ambiguous situations that compromise the integrity of his characters, and that is precisely what identifies Rohmer more clearly from the rest of the Nouvelle Vague directors. Such feat reaches a grand state of maturity with this third moral tale, which would be marginally perfected by the even more challenging and superior masterpiece <i>Claire's Knee</i> (1970), the magnificent fifth moral tale. In all cases so far, such element/situation/person/event representing that challenge to the moral of the personages is a woman, and the perpetrator of the immorality is a man, whereas the vehicle is said woman, or another person of indistinct genre. That's Maud. Another element is the resulting love triangle. In this case, however, we have two. The opposite vertices are Maud and Françoise, respectively, whereas the opposite tips of the bases are Jean-Louis and his friend Vidal, who are both related to both women. However, these triangles interact independently, as we never see the four of them together, just like this: ----Maud ........../\ ........./..\ ......../....\ ......./......\ J-L /____\ Vidal ......\......../ .......\....../ ........\..../ .........\../ ..........\/ --Françoise B) Now, Rohmer's newly developed skill to direct professional actors. Nearing the ending of Ophüls' masterwork, <i>Liebelei</i> (1933), we receive a shocking revelation. Its magic comes from the magic of acting. Acting is not only the art of speaking or making gestures, but the art of reacting as well. Not too many examples abound in the annals of cinema, but from the revelation of <i>Liebelei</i>, to the final confession of <i>Paris, Texas</i> (1984) and key moments in <i>Magnolia</i> (1999), the camera freezes in the face of one character, uninterruptedly, to see him react to the words we are only hearing. He/she speaks, then listens and reacts, then speaks and makes gestures, in an all-embracing process of communication and feedback. THAT'S ACTING, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! Then, it is the turn of the other personage. This is the best way I have encountered to dissect characters in cinema. C) And boy, does this film dissects them all layer by layer, like complex onions. This film experience becomes much more meaningful if you have a doctorate at listening to people. I love listening to people. My mother speaks to me around 95-135 minutes, non-stop (no exaggeration in the time calculation), without me saying a single word. It is worth it. Giving people a chance to speak is the foundation of socialization and human empathy. In this regard, the screenplay feels extremely realistic from a psychological point of view. You witness fully complex people revealing their principles and moral codes that drive their lives. Once that that has been established for the first hour, however, Rohmer uses the next 50 minutes to challenge those principles and preconceived notions, and shatters them to test their true strength. What had become an extraordinarily discussed collision of Pascalian principles, <b>correctly stated</b> laws of stakes, statistical hypotheses testing and probability calculations (which is my current University degree specialty), epistemological questionings on Catholic principles and the validity of the scientific method discussing economic principles of theoretical human rationality, suddenly becomes a complex and engaging drama!! How in the f%/&$!!!! Like Alice, falling down the rabbit hole, we fall every single second deeper and deeper into an unprecedented understanding of these four human souls, with their contradictions (they do contradict themselves at some points, like we all do in life sometimes), correct claims and hypotheses, feeling human emotions. Again, all of this would be perfected in <i>Claire's Knee</i>, when Rohmer achieves his maximum state of brilliance making even the physical landscapes to reflect the anxieties and ideas of the characters, correlating perfectly. Seriously, I love this kind of cinema! 99/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Jan 22, 2010
    "Pascal's Wager" suggests that if one must bet on the existence of God, it's better to err on the side that He does exist rather than He doesn't. If God exists and you don't believe in Him, you gain nothing and lose everything. If God doesn't exist and you believe in Him, you gain nothing and lose nothing. But, if God does exist, you gain everything and lose nothing. Pascal believed in hedging your bets towards the eternal afterlife. Pascal and christianity (catholicism in particular) are discussed heavily in "Ma nuit chez Maud" (My Night with Maud), but the application of Pascal's Wager in one's personal life is what the film's true purpose is. My Night at Maud's is one of director Eric Rohmer's "six moral tales" film series and centers around a 30-something man named Jean-Louis. Jean-Louis seems to live an unfulfilling life, sitting around his apartment, reading math books and attending church. At sunday mass, he sits uninspired, until a beautiful blonde sitting in the pew across from him catches his eye. She fails to notice him though, and after church service, he attempts to follow her home. He makes a pledge to himself that he will someday marry that girl. Meanwhile, he comes across Vidal, an old friend who he hasn't seen in 14 years (they meet in a restaurant that neither one frequents, and in an acute observation, the old friend tells him that since their daily paths never cross, they could only meet when diverging from them), and the two immediately strike up a conversation about Pascal. The atheist/communist Vidal seems fascinated by Jean-Louis' devote christianity, and (seemingly) unrelatedly invites him up to his friend Maud's house for a social visit. Maud is a divorced single mother who's both intellectual and openly honest. She (along with Vidal) bluntly direct the evening's conversation towards sex and it's compatibility with Jean-Louis' faith. Jean-Louis hedges his bets in love, just as he does with his faith. Rather than risk missing out on eternal reward, he lives a bland life, never engaging in anything extraneous, and rather than risk his dream of a perfect marriage, he turns his back on women who don't meet his strict guidelines. He is deeply fascinated by Maud, by her bluntness, her openness, her zest for life. But in the end, she's just a passing flirtation in his eyes, she's not catholic, she's divorced. He instead pursues the beautiful blonde from the church, the moral absolute. To him, the passion is mechanical, he woos her with the exact same words he uses on Maud the day before. The blonde reciprocates with equally mechanical romantic words. The tragedy by the end of the story is that, too late, Jean-Louis learns that all his vaunted standards don't matter very much, and love just can't be plotted out like a book. In the end he turns down the great adventure of love for the sure thing, and while he receives his great reward, it comes at the expense of knowledge in what he's lost out on.
    Devon B Super Reviewer

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