My Night With Maud (Classic Tuesdays)

Eric Rohmer (1969)

Jean-Louis Trintignant, Francoise Fabian, Marie-Christine Barrault Rated PG Run time 110 mins

Depending on your point of view, Rohmer is either a matchless observer of the emotional intricacies of human relationships and interactions (a view championed by many US critics from the 1960’s onwards) or the unchallenged expert in a French cinematic version of the so-called Bloomsbury Set’s penchant for telling exactly the same upper-middle-class story of emotional and social confusion again and again and again- albeit with better fashion sense. Or possibly both at the same time. Either way, My Night with Maud ( or At Maud’s in some translations – just the sort of linguistic ambiguity the Rohmer would doubtless have relished) is a prime example of the directors approach: elegant settings (here monochrome and wintry, rather than the sun dappled colour of much of his later output), complex human dilemmas (this was the third of his Moral Tales, albeit the fourth to be filmed and released) and meticulous self-aware dialogue – lots of dialogue. What arguable lifts Maud above its fellows and contributed to its breakthrough international success (including two Oscar nominations) is the quality of the performances from an outstanding cast: Trintignant and Fabian in particular have rarely been better. For the rest, Rohmer’s own explanation of his Moral Tales may well be the litmus test for whether or not you’ll enjoy this anatomy of devout Catholicism in tension with fleshy (and indeed ethical) temptations: ” not a tale with a moral, but a story which deals less with what people do than with what is going on in their minds while they are doing it…”

96% – Rotten Tomatoes

7.8 / 10 – IMDB

“The film is really about realising the divergent paths that lives and relationships can travel down. But Rohmer’s cinema is also about the needs, fears and desires that influence the decision of which path to take, even when it results in a dead end.”

My Night with Maud: the winter of relationships -BFI