The Lovers (Les Amants) (1959)
as Jeanne Tournier
as Henri Tournier
as Bernard Dubois-Lambert
as Maggy Thiebaut-Leroy
as Raoul Florès
as Catherine fille de Jeanne (uncredited)
Critic Reviews for The Lovers (Les Amants)
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Audience Reviews for The Lovers (Les Amants)
Louis Malle's first feature is more conservative than the typical French New Wave classic, but it's an impressive, polished debut. The glaring problem is that the first half is far more interesting than the second. We're introduced to Jeanne (Jeanne Moreau, back when she could still pass for "girlish"), a bored, neglected wife married to a wealthy newspaper publisher. She escapes her joyless life with steady trips to Paris, where she sees her socialite friend Maggy and a polo-playing paramour. The subtle tensions between these characters are engrossing, but the film sinks once Jeanne meets another man and the story turns into a gooey, dreamy-eyed romance based on no obvious chemistry or motive. "The Lovers" was quite controversial in its day, due to a late sex scene where Moreau's expression of ecstasy suggests some intimate stimulation below. Oh, and there are a few flashes of nipple too. But it's all very tame by contemporary standards.
Aesthetically speaking, this is a truly beautiful piece, and Louis Malle does wonders with that aspect alone. On top of being a photographic triumph, the movie makes a lot of bold decisions in terms of sexual depictions, especially in regards to adultery. It's a very sensual experience, and is quite influential in a lot of ways. All that being said, the shallowness of the protagonist is a bit wearisome and a lot of the character's actions seem to work in favor of brisk plot development rather than realistic human tendencies. The movie sums itself up too quickly for the amount of material crammed in, and it does a lot of damage to how well transitions play out. Worth a look for its achievements.
jeanne moreau is intriguing to watch. fascinating exploration of the bourgeois and immensely bored. the plot was way ahead of its time -- interesting that this was filmed in the late 50's
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