(1990)4.5Wheeler Winston DixonLouis Malle's May Fools (Milou en Mai) is another film in which nature is foregrounded, and is set in France during the events of 1968 -- which are, however, never shown onscreen. Instead of watching riot clubs, tear gas, and barricades, we are given a microcosm of French society in the late '60s (much as Jean Renoir did for bourgeois French society in the late '30s with The Rules of the Game [La Règle du Jeu, 1939]), centering on a sleepy country estate, cared for by Milou (Michel Piccoli), who is devoted to his mother, Madame Vieuzac (Paulette Dubost). But when Milou's mother dies in May 1968, chaos threatens to engulf Milou's relaxed way of life. As scripted by Malle and Jean-Claude Carrière, director Luis Buñuel's longtime collaborator, May Fools demonstrates that even when Eden seems limitless, its true duration can be measured in the span of one person's life -- in this case, that of Milou's mother. As long as Madame Vieuzac's increasingly tenuous hold on life remained, life at the family estate was measured, deliberate, and seemingly eternal. Her death has thrown Milou's entire world into a state of flux. Malle stages the film in a dreamy torpor; though revolution is brewing in Paris, the characters in May Fools are far more interested in their own destinies than that of a nation teetering on the brink of anarchy. The film's original title, Milou in May (Milou en Mai), is perhaps more indicative of the film's real ambitions than the American release title. Although the student/worker revolt of 1968 keeps threatening to intrude, in the end Malle's film is about Milou, not France, and about his personal crises, not those of the government. Indeed, what little information that comes through to the house is wildly speculative, and rumors soon become "facts" as the various members of the household take measure of their lives. Charming, gorgeously photographed, and drenched in sunlight, May Fools is a heart-felt tribute to a past time when politics were trumped by passion, and a utopian social revolution seemed within our collective grasp.
This comic excursion from Louis Malle is set in May 1968, concurrent with a series of Parisian student uprisings. After the death of family matriarch Mme. Vieuzac (Paulette Dubost), the survivors converge on the French countryside for her funeral; they include her two sons, Milou (Michel Piccoli) and Georges (Michel Duchaussoy); Camille (Miou-Miou), Milou's daughter; Camille's husband and children; and granddaughter Claire (Dominique Blanc), a lesbian. With the latest news of rebellion from Paris as their soundtrack, the family members argue over property, revive long-simmering arguments, and watch in dismay as an unlikely love affair begins. When the student uprising threatens to spill over into their community, the family heads for the hills, where the great outdoors only intensifies their reunion.