A Man and a Woman (1966)

Genres - Romance, Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Drama, Psychological Drama  |   Run Time - 102 min.  |   Countries - France  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Michael Costello

Lelouch's charming romance may not exactly sound the depths of male-female relations, but in its flashy cutting, enraptured camera movements, glamorous locations, appealing performers, and undercurrent of bittersweet romantic longing, the film is as pleasurable as the lightest of souffl├ęs. The man (Jean-Louis Trintignant), a professional auto racer, and the woman (Anouk Aimee), a film continuity person, meet at his children's school and begin to fall in love during a lengthy drive. As they come to know one another and their relationship grows, both are fettered by powerful memories of past loves. Perhaps the most accurate description of the film is "two hours of MTV for almost middle-aged people who like French movie music." As the lovers dash about from film sets to hospitals to racetracks, with the camera perpetually awhirl, the film leaping back in forth in time, and the stock switching from color to black-and-white, one is entertained while having little idea what's happening between the two lovers. It becomes a simple matter to project one's own fantasies onto these attractive, thinly sketched romantic archetypes, which may explain the film's enormous international success. What now seems most unusual about the film is its gentle lyricism and the lack of antagonism in the couple's relationship despite the considerable stresses of both their lives. The motif of gentle lyricism is picked up in Francis Lai's memorable theme, which became a huge hit in its own right.