A Man and A Woman
The romantic comedy has gone through many permutations, but it generally has three phases: A) "Boy Meets Girl" (or vice-versa); B) "The Lovers Quarrel over a (Not So) Easily Resolved Issue"; and C) "Lovers Reunite For Happy Ending" (romantic dramas generally change C) to "One Has a Life-Affirming Sickness and Dies"). And though Claude Lelouch's 1966 A Man and A Woman (Un Homme et une femme) offers nothing radically new to the genre, it's easy to see why the film became a crossover success in America, winning Oscars for Best Foreign Film and Best Original Screenplay, and even inspiring a sequel 20 years later. For starters, it's got a great cast: The woman is Anouk Amiee (best known from Lola and 8 1/2) playing Anne Gauthier, a script supervisor who's a widowed single parent, while the man Jean-Louis Duroc is played by Jean Louis Trintignant (The Conformist, Z), a race-car driver, single parent, and widower. The two meet when one of the teachers at their children's school suggests Jean gives Anne a ride home and on the ride they talk about life and their loves; slowly, the two build a bond. Of course something must get in the way of their love in this case, it's the memories of her dead husband. But the movie is not about the simple plotting that concerns most Hollywood rom-coms, and rather about people meeting each other as most people do in real life sans cuteness or triteness. One feels that these are two attractive people who are attracted to each other, but who also have to work through their emotional baggage. The lack of formula is rather refreshing, although the results are the same. Lelouch directs with a sort of carefree sloppiness, filling the picture with many non sequiturs and scenes that simply play out rather than building the narrative; it feels like a New Wave film without the ideology. At the heart of the story are Amiee and Trintignant, who are just so attractive that it's hard not to fall for them. It also should be noted the film's theme music (by Francis Lai) is as infectious as the zither theme from The Third Man. Warner Brothers presents A Man and a Woman in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1). Audio is Dolby Digital 1.0 in French (with optional English and Spanish subtitles) or dubbed into English (with optional French subtitles if you're feeling ironic). Extras include a recent conversation with director Lelouch about the film (13 min.), a behind-the-scenes featurette from the original production (23 min.), and trailers for this movie and the sequel A Man and a Woman: 20 Years Later. Snap-case.