My Night at Maud's

My Night at Maud's ★★★★★

Almost too immense to put into words, despite the gorgeous simplicity of the story. It's a small, insular narrative that nonetheless feels immense and overwhelming - a masterpiece, in other words. Will reserve more detailed comment for a third viewing, except to note that emphasis on Rohmer's dialogue gives short shrift to the keenness (and importance) of his visuals: e.g. the shot of the two couples ascending a snowy hillside; the slow zoom towards Jean-Louis and Françoise confessing to each other; the ironic distance of that closing image of familial bliss (an echo of Varda's Le bonheur). And then, of course, there's that lovely single-take of Maud recounting her love affair and baring her soul, which is as wonderful an illustration as any of why Rohmer is truly a director of cinema, above all else: just when she's at her most emotionally naked, the play of light on her face indicates that Jean-Louis is moving (one would expect, towards her); but then her expression reverts once more to that impeccable poise and she asks whether it's still snowing, and then we cut to Trintignant looking out the window. A perfect moment in one of the loveliest and most stimulating of films.

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