The Mother and the Whore (1973)

Film, Drama
La Maman et la Putain

Time Out says

The 100 best French films

Director : Jean Eustache

This film ranked #2 in Time Out's list of the 100 greatest French films. Click here to see the full list. 

Three-and-a-half hours of people talking about sex sounds like a recipe for boredom; in Eustache's hands, it is anything but. There is no 'explicitness': the film is about attitudes to, and defences against, sex and the body. Using dialogue garnered entirely from real-life conversations and sticking entirely to a prepared script (no improvisation), Eustache has provided us with a ruthlessly sharp-eyed view of chic, supposedly liberated sexual relationships, revealing them to be no less a disaster area of tragic dimensions than their 'straighter' counterparts. Veronika (Lebrun) cripples herself by regarding herself entirely through male eyes; Alexandre (Léaud, playing a character eerily close to his standard screen persona) is revealed to be the victim of a greedy, self-regarding, and desperate chauvinism; Marie (the superb, strong Lafont) is a less fully delineated character, sadly allowed only two fierce rejoinders to Alexandre's blind demands. Each of the three holds part of the 'truth' about their situation; none can put the pieces together. The Mother and the Whore is an icy comment on the New Wave, informed throughout by Eustache's striking visual intelligence.

 

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