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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Le Souffle Au Coeur (aka Murmur Of The Heart) (1971)

A precocious, jazz loving 14 year old (Benoit Ferreux), the son of a bourgeois uptight father (Daniel Gelin, MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH) and a free spirited Italian emigrant mother (Lea Massari, L'AVVENTURA) who spoils him, comes of age in in 1954 France. Director Louis Malle looks back at his adolescence through a buoyant haze of irreverent comedic anecdotes, some amusing, some poignant, some irritating but all invigorating. Ferreux's older than his years adolescent face is the perfect blank page for Malle's molding. The film's controversial ending seems more uncomfortable today than it did in the free wheeling 70s. Given the current atmosphere, I seriously doubt the film could be made today and be as widely embraced by both critics and public the way it was in 1971. Massari is outstanding as the unconditionally loving and nurturing, unrestrained mother. Malle laces the film with the jazz sounds of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. With Michael Lonsdale as a possibly pedophile priest.

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