The Lovers (Les Amants)

I’m so sorry for the lack of an update! I’ve been traveling nonstop for the entire month of August and I’ve been spending most of the month of September trying to get back to a normal schedule. Thankfully, my internal clock is back to normal and so is my daily schedule, so let’s get cracking! Also, I’ll be posting updates of my travels to Hawaii, LA and Iceland within the next week or so over at Saving For Japan, so check that out as well!

Let’s change things up a bit and take a look at the 1958 French drama film, The Lovers (Les Amants). Directed by Louis Malle and staring Jeanne Moreau as Jeanne Tournier, a bored

ennui
Jeanne’s ennui

housewife who lives near Dijon, but makes frequent visits to Paris to visit her best friend, the very chic Maggy and the polo-playing Spaniard, Raoul, Maggy’s friend and Jeanne’s lover. Now, here’s the problem, Jeanne is bored. She’s feeling ennui like no one else. Even though…her house is beautiful, her child is adorable and loving, she clearly has money, she has a fairly flexible husband that allows her to do whatever she wants. However, her husband, Henri, owns a famous newspaper, but does not spare any time to be with his wife – leaving at all hours of the night in order to address issues with his magazine (and I swear he’s having an affair with his young assistant). So, she escapes to Paris whenever possible to hang out with Maggy and to have fabulous and romantic nights with Raoul. Of course, none of this is appealing or lifts Jeanne out of her perpetual ennui.

fun-with-raoul
Jeanne having a fun night with her lover, Raoul.
husband-and-wife
Jeanne and her husband, Henri at his newspaper. 

So, what’s a girl to do? Well, first, her husband has to become suspicious and jealous about her frequent visits to Paris and her ongoing, blatant quality time with the handsome Raoul. So, he demands that they throw a dinner party at their house and invite Maggy and Raoul for a weekend of awkward dinners, fishing, and drinking. Of course, Jeanne is upset, because she knows exactly what her husband is trying to do. She’s also frustrated with her lover, who has absolutely no qualms about going to her house and spending the weekend with his lover’s husband who clearly knows what’s up. And the chic Maggy? She thinks the whole thing is ridiculous as well, but she’s a good friend and is always up for a scandalous time.

This whole part of the film gets so unreal and ridiculous that it is so delightful to watch, because of course Jeanne’s car breaks down. Of course, a young man by the name of Bernard is the one that has to help her and drive her to her house where she is late for the dinner party (everyone is very anxiously and awkwardly waiting for her outside of the house). Of course Bernard is asked to stay at the house for the weekend by the gracious Henri. Then comes one of the most uncomfortable, frustrating dinners possible. Henri is horrible to Jeanne, acting as if they have the perfect marriage and doting on her, much to Jeanne’s outrage, because typically he can’t even bother to look at her when she’s home. Raoul goes on and on about his wild adventures around the world, which makes Jeanne feel like he’s even more ridiculous than her husband, as he keeps giving her puppy dog eyes and seeks validation from Jeanne, even though her husband is right there, watching everything. Bernard is silent. Maggy is drinking.

the-dinner-party
The dinner party.

The final straw is when everyone is sent to their rooms to sleep. Henri grabs Jeanne and makes her walk him to his bedroom (they have separate bedrooms), but she immediately escapes his grasps, but not before Raoul grabs her and tries to get her into his room, which is right across from Henri’s room! Jeanne also rebuffs his advances and goes into her room, where she’s even more depressed than before because she can’t stand either her husband or her lover. Her life feels like a joke!

The next section of the film turns into a dream, because of course Jeanne and Bernard meet at the middle night and go outside of the gorgeous house, which is kind of like an estate and have a romantic night. The two couldn’t stand each other before, but now, they’re in love. All of the ambivalence and ennui that Jeanne expressed before all but vanishes with one kiss from Bernard. I won’t give away the ending, but it’s so random and fun and incredibly reckless.

love
Bernard and Jeanne.

So, would I recommend this film? I would! It’s delightful and reminds me of my past obsession with Françoise Sagan. She always wrote about women with money who were bored and found a sort of freedom through sexual liberation. The recklessness and

funnnn
The obscenity of it all!

selfishness of it all (and the French-ness of it all!) is something very refreshing. Also, this film is important in American legal history because it resulted in a court case that questioned the definition of obscenity. Apparently, some Americans found the love scene between Jeanne and Bernard obscene (how shocking! Americans thinking sex is obscene! Especially when a film is depicting a woman being sexual pleased instead of a man!).

Also, the insights into life as a French woman in the suburbs was rather fascinating. The ease in which Jeanne can slip into one life in Paris and  another life in the suburbs is fascinating to watch. There are two scene that really delighted me as well. I always wondered who used those large bottles of Chanel perfume that I’ve seen in stores and I got my answer in this film. When Jeanne arrives at her house with Bernard, a bit disheveled and sweaty, she runs up to her room to “freshen up”. This “freshening up” just involves her changing her clothes and taking a large bottle of Chanel perfume (which is halfway gone) and soaking a cloth with it and patting it all over her body. A European shower if you will. I found that part so incredibly fascinating! The other part of the film that I thoroughly enjoyed is when she and Bernard take a bath in her room and she declares that she “always keeps the bathtub full of cold water during warm nights”. I found that line and the ensuing scene so luxurious and fun.

This film also inspired me to get back into the novels of Françoise Sagan! So stayed tuned for a review of another Sagan novel!

Remember to keep some cold water in your bathtub for warm nights.

the-lovers
The loves in the bathtub.

 

 

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