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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Un Homme Et Une Femme (aka A Man And A Woman) (1966)

A widow (Anouk Aimee), who works as a script supervisor in films, and a widower (Jean Louis Trintignant), who is a race car driver, meet because their small children attend the same boarding school. A tentative romance begins. Winner of the Palme d'Or at the Cannes film festival as well as the best foreign language film Oscar, it's somewhat difficult today to describe what a breath of fresh air cinematically Claude Lelouch's romance was in 1966. Its influence on other films (not to mention television commercials) resonated for decades. Its narrative is paper thin ... a man and a woman meet and fall in love. But it's how Lelouch presents his story that's exceptional. It's done visually with long stretches without dialog, often accompanied by Francis Lai's seductive underscore: a car driving as dawn breaks, an old man and his dog walking on the beach, the protagonists going about their work and daily lives, etc. Lelouch bounces back between color, B&W and sepia though apparently it had more to do with economic reasons rather than artistic choices. Lelouch is blessed with Aimee and Trintignant as his leads, not only because they're attractive but their expressive faces say more than reams of dialogue could. In the end, it's about as much about love of cinema as romantic love. The love story between Aimee and Trintignant is presented realistically yet it's more swoony movie romance than ever. It was the date movie of 1966/67. With Pierre Barouh and Valerie Lagrange.

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