Friday, September 05, 2014

The Man Who Loved Women (1977 film)

Directed by Francois Truffaut and written by Truffaut, Michel Fermaud, and Suzanne Schiffman, L’Homme qui aimait les femmes (The Man Who Loved Women) is the story of a man who had many lovers in his life as they would all reflect on what he brought to their world. Told in a reflective narrative style, the film is an exploration into a man who meant something to the women he loved no matter how complicated his love life is. Starring Charles Denner, Brigitte Fossey, Nelly Borgeaud, Genevieve Fontanel, and Leslie Caron. L’Homme qui aimait les femmes is a very touching and witty film from Francois Truffaut.

The film is a reflective story about a man who loved so many women as he tries to deal with everything he had done as he writes a book about the many relationships he has as well as his own faults as a man. All of which has the main narrative exploring the life of Bertrand Morane (Charles Denner) whose obsession with women’s legs and sleeping with them has him reflecting on his failures to find stability as he learned that a friend of his is already with someone else. The action would force him to deal with his own love-life and his own relationship with his mother as Bertrand would eventually write about the many loves of his life as it would attract the attention of a young publisher in Genevieve (Brigitte Fossey) who would fall for him. The film’s script takes it time to play into Bertrand’s self-discovery as well as the women in his life such as the lingerie shop manager Helene (Genevieve Fontanel), a doctor’s wife in Delphine (Nelly Borgeaud), and an old flame in Vera (Leslie Caron) which would force him to think about his own past and sins.

Francois Truffaut’s direction is quite simplistic at times in terms of his compositions but there’s also elements of style that is prevalent throughout the film. Notably the shots of women’s legs as it’s something that Bertrand is often obsessed about as there is something about their legs that is quite fascinating. The film is shot partially in Paris and Montpellier where the latter serves as the home where Bertrand lives in as he is often awaken by a caller whom he was eager to meet. Yet, there’s a sensitivity to Truffaut’s approach to telling the story where he plays into the many contradictions that Bertrand lives in as he is a man with a lot of great flaws as Truffaut doesn’t portray him as anything but a man. Truffaut’s camera involves a lot of simple close-ups and medium shots as well as moments where Bertand’s obsessions would get the best of him though the film does open on a very grim note as it plays to what Genevieve was discovering about Bertrand. Overall, Truffaut creates a very engaging yet compelling film about a man’s love for women.

Cinematographer Nestor Almendros does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography with its naturalistic approach to lighting in some of the nighttime scenes as well as some low-key yet evocative look to some of the daytime exterior scenes and some black-and-white shots for flashbacks into Bertrand‘s child hood. Editor Martine Barraque-Currie does fantastic work with the editing as it plays to a sense of style with its approach to dissolves and jump-cuts as the latter add to the sense of drama that Bertrand is going through. Production designer Jean-Pierre Kohut-Svelko does terrific work with set pieces from the lingerie store that Helene runs to the apartment that Bertrand lives in.

Costume designer Monique Dury does nice work with the clothes from the suits that Bertrand wears to the different dresses the women wear. The sound work of Michel Laurent is superb for some of the sound effects such as the aerodynamics lab he works at and other moments where the sound drowns out some of the dialogue. The film’s music by Maurice Jaubert does amazing work in creating an upbeat orchestral score for some of the funnier moments along with more low-key somber moments for the dramatic scenes.

The film’s cast includes some notable small roles from Nathalie Baye as a woman Bertrand asks over a pair of legs he saw early in the film, Anna Perrier as a beautiful babysitter, Jean Daste as a doctor, and Valerie Bonnier as a former lover whom Bertrand helps out. Leslie Caron is wonderful in her brief role as the old flame Vera whom Bertrand would meet late in the film as their meeting would force Bertrand to think about his own flaws. Genevieve Fontanel is terrific as the lingerie store manager Helene who is a friend of Bertrand as she reveals her own preferences in companionship that would force Bertrand to deal with his own flaws. Nelly Borgeaud is fantastic as Delphine as a married woman who would fall for Bertrand only to cause trouble as she would do things that would force him to break away from that relationship.

Brigitte Fossey is brilliant as Genevieve as this book publisher who is intrigued by Bertrand’s story as she would help him get it out as she would also fall for him to understand everything that he’s all about. Finally, there’s Charles Denner is a remarkable performance as Bertrand Morane as this man who has this ability to fall in love with women and be with them as he deals with his own faults and the contradictions he makes in his life as it’s one that is funny but also quite sensitive as it’s really a performance to watch.

L’Homme qui aimait les femmes is a phenomenal film from Francois Truffaut that features an incredible performance from Charles Denner. Not only is it one of Truffaut’s most captivating films on the way men view women but also one that is very sensitive in the way men view themselves at times which makes it one of Truffaut’s more accessible films. Overall, L’Homme qui aimait les femmes is an extraordinarily rich film from Francois Truffaut.

Francois Truffaut Films: The 400 Blows - Shoot the Piano Player - Jules & Jim - Antoine & Colette - The Soft Skin - Fahrenheit 451 - The Bride Wore Black - Stolen Kisses - Mississippi Mermaid - The Wild Child - Bed and Board - Two English Girls - Such a Gorgeous Kid Like Me - Day for Night - The Story of Adele H. - Small Change - The Green Room - Love on the Run - The Last Metro - The Woman Next Door - Confidentially Yours

The Auteur #40: Francois Truffaut (Pt. 1) - (Pt. 2)

© thevoid99 2014


ruth said...

I've been watching some French comedies, perhaps I should check out some Truffaut while I'm at it. The plot sounds like it has the ingredients for a witty dramedy.

thevoid99 said...

This is what I think is one of Truffaut's more accessible films as well as his most poignant in terms of the flaws in being a man.

There's a 1983 remake by Blake Edwards that stars Burt Reynolds but I heard it's not very good.