The Lovers (Les Amants) (1959)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

The Lovers (Les Amants) furthered the reputations of both director Louis Malle and star Jeanne Moreau -- and also pushed the boundaries of American censorship (1959 vintage) to the breaking point. Moreau plays a humdrum housewife whose life brightens considerably when she meets a handsome young archeologist (Jean-Marc Bory). The two enjoy an exquisite evening in the boudoir, and when comes the dawn, Moreau has gained a whole new outlook on things. She abandons her family in favor of Bory, even though neither has the slightest notion of what the future will hold. The Lovers gained notoriety upon its first release as the Movie With the Nude Scene: though a model of decorum by today's standards (the most suggestive moment is a shot of Moreau's hand falling limply on the bedsheets), the scene provided fodder for outraged guardians of public morals for several years. One hapless Cleveland theatre owner was arrested on an obscenity charge, a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court. The Venice Film festival took a more liberal stance on the matter, awarding The Lovers a special jury prize. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Art House & International , Drama , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Criterion Collection


Jeanne Moreau
as Jeanne Tournier
Alain Cuny
as Henri Tournier
Jean-Marc bory
as Bernard Dubois-Lambert
Judith Magre
as Maggy Thiebaut-Leroy
Jose-Luis De Villalonga
as Raoul Florès
Gaston Modot
as Coudray
Claude Mansard
as Marcelot
Patricia Garcin
as Catherine fille de Jeanne (uncredited)
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Lovers (Les Amants)

All Critics (9)

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | March 25, 2009
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | December 3, 2001
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

What a difference a lay makes...

Full Review… | April 21, 2011

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | December 30, 2008
Movie Metropolis

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.

Eric Broome
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

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.

Mike T.
Mike T.

Super Reviewer

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

Stefanie C
Stefanie C

Super Reviewer

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