Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My Night at Maud's

The sole film that we viewed by Eric Rohmer was one of my favorite. My Night at Maud's feels calculated and well thought out. It is rich with dialogue and philosophical questions. The plot focuses on Jean-Louis who happens to run into an old friend (Vidal) at a restaurant. Vidal is involved with a woman (Maud) who he wants Jean-Louis to meet. The largest, and most important section of the film takes place in Maud's apartment where the three of them speak to one another at length. It seems that Vidal and Maud have grown somewhat tired of one another, but don't quite want to leave one another behind. Vidal seems to have various motivations for introducing Jean-Louis to Maud; maybe he wants to see how much she really cares for him by giving her the temptation of sleeping with Jean-Louis, or maybe he is testing Jean-Louis and their newfound friendship. In any case, Rohmer purposefully leaves it ambiguous for the audience to decide.
Playing into the complex interactions in the film is the issue of religion. Jean-Louis is a practicing Catholic, while Maud is not at all religious and is divorced. The two of them discuss this at length and it is one of the main reasons why Jean-Louis is reluctant to sleep with her. He feels that he should stay true to the blonde woman in church that he saw, whom he wants to marry. This plays into the discussions of predestination in the film. It is also ironic in the end when they all meet on the beach and Jean-Louis puts together the whole situation in his mind. The film has a more reserved and precise approach than do the works, for example, of Godard. But at the same time , Rohmer's film also has a more classical feeling to it and is not as wildly experimental as Godard's works.

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