The Man Who Loved Women (1976)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Comedy of Manners, Romantic Comedy, Sex Comedy  |   Run Time - 113 min.  |   Countries - France   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Michael Costello

Truffaut's obsession with women and love is central to his films, and here he looks with bemused irony on a womanizing protagonist who seems to be more than slightly autobiographical. Although a mild-mannered middle-aged writer, he has only to see a theater usher cross her legs before he reflexively makes his move. His most taxing dilemma arises when two equally attractive women pass in opposite directions: which one should he chase? Charles Denner, whose diffidence has usually confined him to supporting parts, is well-cast as the slightly melancholy roue, who is so laid back that it takes time to register that his egoless charm is racking up a startling number of conquests. Indeed, as he moves smoothly from one woman to the next, he rarely hears a discouraging word from his gorgeous quarry, among whom are Nathalie Baye, Brigitte Fossey, and Nelly Borgeaud. But despite Truffaut's characteristic lightness and subtlety, the film would be little more than a witty male fantasy, did it not gradually insinuate the underlying sense of emptiness left by the man's obsession. There's little attempt at explanation; when his doctor humorously chastises him for being an aging hound, his only excuse is that he cannot love one woman, because, like the director, he has suffered parental neglect. But in the film's wickedly ironic conclusion, Truffaut intimates that, in fact, character may be destiny.