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By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
My Night at Maud's
Directed by Eric Rohmer
Fox Lorber 06/00 DVD/VHS Feature Film
Jean-Louis (Jean-Louis Trintignant) is a devout Catholic who attends mass regularly. In church he spots a blonde (Marie-Christine Barrault) and is convinced she's the one he wants to marry. This engineer, who is in his thirties, then bumps into Vidal (Antoine Vitez), a philosophy professor he hasn't seen for years. They strike up a conversation about choice, chance, Marxism, and Pascal's perspective on God.
Vidal introduces Jean-Louis to Maud (Francoise Fabian), a beautiful and worldly-wise woman who has been his lover. Later in the evening he leaves. Maud tells Jean-Louis about her marriage, her former husband's Catholic mistress, and the sad end to her affair with the only man she ever really loved completely.
Writer and director Eric Rohmer keeps our attention riveted on Jean-Louis and Maud, who are worlds apart in their experiences and beliefs. The engineer talks about his faith in God and his belief that he will meet and marry the right woman. At one point Maud says to both men: "You reek of holy water," and at another point in the conversation, she calls Jean-Louis "a boy scout." Maud, who genuinely likes this guest who must stay the night on account of a snowstorm, tries unsuccessfully to seduce him. They part amicably. Five years later, the two meet and one of them is overcome by an ironic surprise.
My Night at Maud's is a sophisticated drama that speaks volumes about sexual politics, faith, and the delights of conviviality. It is one of six films in Rohmer's "Moral Tales" series.
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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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