Tuesday, October 16, 2012

537. Le souffle au coeur/Murmur of the Heart (1971)

Running Time: 118 minutes
Directed By: Louis Malle
Written By: Louis Malle
Main Cast: Benoit Ferreux, Lea Massari, Daniel Gelin, Fabien Ferreux, Marc Winocourt


FINALLY we arrive at the "Malle Hat Trick" and the start of the second half of the season. This three film tribute to Louis Malle would've kicked off last week, had Netflix not sent me a broken copy of "Murmur of the Heart" and screwed up all my plans. Oh well, it's what I've come to expect from that company.

Laurent Chevalier (B. Ferreux) is our main character; a 15-year-old boy who excels in his studies, loves jazz, adores his mother and doesn't love his father. The film starts out on the slow side, introducing us to the Chevalier clan and establishing the character of Laurent. His mother (Massari) is extremely lovable with her three sons, especially Laurent, cuddling and kissing them any chance she gets. The oldest brother is Thomas (F. Ferreux) and the middle child is Marc (Winocourt). They're typical older brothers, picking and bullying Laurent one minute and trying to introduce him to new experiences the next. In fact, the movie begins to pick up when Thomas and Marc take Laurent to Madeleine's, a brothel. Laurent is introduced to a sexy, young whore and is just about to cross "lose my cherry" off of his "to do" list when Thomas and Marc pull him off the young lady. Later, Laurent develops a heart murmur and it is suggested that he go to a sanatorium to recover and have a vacation. The sanatorium is basically like the place where Guido goes in "8 1/2"; kind of like a country club for the sick. He is accompanied by his mother and together the two stay in a hotel together. Let's just go ahead and leave it at that, shall we.


Okay, now that we've closed the door to the people who haven't seen the film, allow me to just say this out loud:


Whew. Okay, got that off my chest. I'm actually just kidding, really. I don't mean to be insensitive, insincere or ignorant to the beautiful moment that took place on film, between the boy and his mother, but we'll get to that in a minute. I meant it when I said it, the film really does start out a tad slow. I was having a hard time warming up to the characters and in my view, there wasn't enough alone time with the audience and Laurent. He was being smothered by the other characters on the screen and the two boys that played his brothers were just farking annoying. I guess I just don't understand the concept of asshole older brothers, because while I did have one older brother, he was never an asshole and almost always a really cool guy. Anyway, it wasn't a terrible first half or anything, but I would recommend hanging in there if you decide to check this out. That's the problem with films that are scripted in episodes; one part can be amazing, while the next part can be unappealing and the whole film ends up being a hit and miss affair. Once we get to the sanatorium is where things really start to pick up, as we get a little more intimate with Laurent and his mother.

It's a known fact that "Murmur of the Heart" was based heavily on Malle's own childhood, which begs the question...was there an incestuous relationship between Malle and his own mother? It is quite obvious from the beginning of this film that Laurent has feelings for his mother and not just the normal feelings that a son has for his mom. So why wasn't I disgusted by the act of love that is committed between Laurent and his mother? Well, the film is executed so well that it literally plays with your emotions and the act is hinted to so heavily throughout the film that when it finally happens, you aren't THAT surprised by it. It's actually quite the beautiful scene, one that will stand out among millions of other scenes that THE BOOK has introduced me to. Or was it simply that the woman playing Laurent's mother (Lea Massari) was so hot that we, the viewer (and especially the male viewer) didn't mind watching the act. Now, even as I write that it sounds like I'm kidding but I'm kinda not. Guys, imagine the woman playing Laurent's mother to be Ave Ninchi - the woman who played Augusta. Now, would that have made you view the scene the same way you viewed it with Lea Massari or would you have been utterly disgusted? Wow, I have a feeling I'm saying some pretty outlandish things here and that I should probably hold my finger on the "BACKSPACE" button until it all goes away and write something a little more sensitive, but I'm not gonna'.

RATING: 7/10  That could rise with time. With a few exceptions, the past two or three weeks worth of films have been steadily good, but nothing blow away. That's not necessarily a bad thing though and could make for me a difficult task come TOP 20 time. Next up: "Atlantic City".


October 16, 2012  12:27am

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