Friday, March 9, 2012

My Night at Maud's

My Night at Maud's (Eric Rohmer, 1969)

Maud has warned her new friend and dinner guest, Jean-Louis, not to go out in the snowstorm. Against his Catholic principles (and in the face of his fixation on a blonde girl he has spied at church the day before), he agrees to spend the night in her apartment. They have a long conversation. She is willing; he is indecisive, going to and fro from her bed. At one moment, she opens her heart to him (as he sits near her), and tells him of the lover she lost to a car accident. As she leans forward toward the camera, and tells her story, a shadow passes across her face; it is Jean-Louis, once again becoming distant, leaving her side as she talks. In the next shot he is across the room, standing away from her. To begin to understand this film, and to begin to understand how Eric Rohmer made movies, you have to understand this moment: not simply listening to what characters say, but looking at what characters do as they talk, and seeing how their words take shape in the lives of others.

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