Un homme et une femme (1966)
It's been a while since I was smitten with anything, even cinematically, but I think I have just fallen in love with a new old movie: Claude Lelouch's "Un Homme et une femme" ("A Man and A Woman"--not to be confused with Godard's "Une femme est une femme," which I also love). It's kind of bittersweet falling in love with a movie like this, on the positive, I feel like I have foudn some gem from the past, and somehow rescued it from obscurity. It also reminds me that there are still some fabulous movies out there in the past just waiting to be rediscovered. But it's also frustrating when it happens to something older and slightly obscure because then it just takes that much more energy to convince others to see it. Also I feel like I'm so into it that when I try and write about it I blurt out a bunch of crap that I don't feel like does it justice. You really just have to take my word for it and see it. But anyways, here goes an attempt at why I like it.
It is a wonderful French film (they make the best films) from 1966 (the best films are from the 1960s) about a couple of widowers who fall in love. He, Jean-Louis (played by Jean-Louis Trintignant), is a racecar driver. She, Anne (played by the incomparable Anouk Aimee), is a script-girl (what we call a script-supervisor in North America). If you enjoyed love stories like Richard Linklater's Before Sunset I think you might enjoy this. It is so patient, tender, dreamy, and beautifully shot. The music is wonderful. Wonderful! It has some awesome car racing scenes from the Le Mans 24 Hour race, as well as the Monte Carlo Rally, featuring the Ford GT40 (one of the greatest and sexiest cars ever) and the Ford Mustang, respectively. It has some really nice hand held and intimate cinematography. There is a part where the couple embrace on a cloudy and windy beach and then it cuts to a dog running around happily on the beach. I love that. There are two really cute kids. The performances are all true and genuine. The character's names are the same as their real names, which I also like. The dialogue feels real, and says no more or less than it needs to. It is very nicely edited, between flashbacks and present, quite seamlessly and it never disorients you. The pacing is also perfect too, the scenes take as long as they have to, and even a scene over a meal with the two leads and their children, while kind of long, is just so good to watch because the kids are so cute. There is a subtle use of both colour film and black and white film. The whole mood of the film is like the sunset poking through the clouds after a cold, wet, and stormy autumn afternoon on the Atlantic coast of France. I'm in love with it. Oh yeah, and it also won the Grand Prix at the 1966 Cannes Film Festival, it won Oscars for Best Foreign Film and Best Original Screenplay in 1967 (also nominated for Best Director and Best Actress), as well as won Anouk Aimee a Golden Globe for Best Actress, and Best Foreign Film that same year.
I hesitate to include the scene below because it is so great to see in the actual film, but at the risk of spilling some of the proverbial beans, if you watch this clip and anything in it at all grabs your attention, go and find this movie! It is available from the Vancouver Public Library, but I'm sure you could find it at most respectable video stores.
I like how in France in the 1960s you could drive your car anywhere, like on the beach or on a pier. Vive la France!
UPDATE: I now own this movie, so if you know me, I can lend it to you!