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My Night at Maud's: The Criterion Collection

Eric Rohmer's Six Moral Tales: The Criterion Collection

After a couple of year abroad, Jean-Louis (Jean-Louis Trintignant) has moved back to France to a small town called Clermont. In church sees his ideal woman, Francois (Marie-Christine Barrault), a young blond ingénue he follows one day but loses in traffic. Shortly thereafter he runs into his old friend Vidal (Antoine Vitez), with whom he makes plans based on both of their interests in fate. After a concert, the two head over to visit divorcée Maud (Francoise Fabian), and Vidal is insistent Jean join him because if he doesn't the two will fall into bed, or so Vidal suggests. At Maud's house, the three make conversation about religion and philosophy, but as the night goes on Maud crawls into bed. The men get antsy about this and both want to leave, but because Jean has a long way to drive, Maud offers him the opportunity to spend the night. Vidal leaves shortly thereafter, and Jean is ready to go, but he gets sucked into conversation. Shortly thereafter, Maud reveals the only place to sleep is in her bed, that Vidal has a crush on her while she doesn't care for him, and that she only likes to sleep in the nude. Jean lingers and finds out that in her marriage she and her husband both carried on extra-marital affairs, and that there is a decided conflict between their ideologies, but also a definite attraction between their bodies. He spends the night, but is reticent to sleep under the sheets with her, and when he wakes he finally slips under the covers. Calling 1969's Ma Nuit Chez Maud ("My Night at Maud's") the masterpiece of Eric Rohmer's "Six Moral Tales" is hard to argue with. Though each film in the series deals with the same troubles (a man is in love with one girl, finds himself involved with a second, and returns or retreats to the first), the conclusion to Maud's is one of the most emotionally perfect endings in cinema. That said, the Moral Tales are divided into two halves — black-and-white and color — and both sections end with a strong epiphany of the main character realizing what should and shouldn't be expressed. Rohmer is an absolute master of conveying the indecisiveness of intellectual men, who have to rationalize their sexual encounters to the point that they can ruin situations. But this also leads to their "moral" sides, that frustrates certain encounters to lend an emotional purity to the ones they want. What makes Rohmer such a talent is that in his filmmaking the viewer can see all sides of the equation, and whether one sees Jean as a coward or someone who believes in love is a question posed by the film, and answered only by the viewer. The Criterion Collection presents My Night at Maud's in full frame (1.33:1 OAR) with the French audio in DD 1.0 with optional English subtitles. The supplements include "On Pascal," is a Rohmer-directed conversation between authors and philosophers Brice Parain and Dominique Dubarle on Pascal (22 min.), and "Telecinema," which interviews critic Jean Douchet, Trintignant, and producer Pierre Cottrel (14 min.). Theatrical trailer, folding digipak. Available exclusively in Criterion's "Eric Rohmer's Six Moral Tales" box-set.
—DSH



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