7.3/10
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The Lovers (1958)

Les amants (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 26 October 1959 (USA)
Saddled with a dull husband and a foolish lover, a woman has an affair with a stranger.

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(dialogue)
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2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Jeanne Tournier
...
Bernard Dubois-Lambert
...
Maggy Thiebaut-Leroy
...
Raoul Flores (as José Villalonga)
...
Coudray
Pierre Frag
...
La secrétaire
Gib Grossac
Lucienne Hamon ...
Chantal
Georgette Lobre ...
Marthe
Claude Mansard ...
Marcelot (as Claude Mansart)
Alain Cuny ...
Henri Tournier
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Storyline

Bored with her husband, bored with her polo-playing lover, will the middle-aged heroine go away with the young man who gave her a lift that day when her car broke down on the way back to her country estate from a weekend with her lover in Paris? Written by Dale O'Connor <daleoc@interaccess.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The most talked-about and fought-about film! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

26 October 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Lovers  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(Québec)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

After screening this film, Nico Jacobellis, manager of the Heights Art Theater in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, was charged with and convicted of possessing and exhibiting an obscene film. He appealed all the way to the US Supreme Court, which overturned the convictions, ruling that the film was not obscene. In a concurring opinion, Justice Potter Stewart made his famous pronouncement concerning what was pornography: "I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that." Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184, 197 (1964) (Stewart, J., concurring). See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mau Mau Sex Sex (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

Streichsextett No. 1
(uncredited)
Op.18: Movement II--Andante ma moderato
Music by Johannes Brahms
Conducted by Serge Baudo
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User Reviews

Slow paced and not an easy watch but engaging and interesting regardless of whether you empathise or judge
20 June 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Jeanne Tournier is a bored middle-aged woman. She lives in comfort with her wealthy husband, children and small army of maids and servants but yet she is not happy. Her husband is distant and spiteful while her relationship with a polo-playing lover has become stale and tiresome. Returning from one of her many "trips to Paris", Jeanne's car breaks down and she is helped by a young student who takes her back to her home where he is invited to join the Tournier's and their guests for dinner. He stays the night and quickly starts to peal away the layers of frustration and offer her something else if she is brave enough to take it.

Although it probably says more about America than the shock value of this film, the fact that this was legally classed as "not pornography" brought it a success that continues to this day and was the main reason I decided to join those who had seen it by seeing it. From a content point of view I must admit that I found it hard to get into Jeanne as a character because the film did sort of expect us to accept her adultery and sex as part of her escaping and growing in some way – a thing that will not always be true, sometime people just cheat and there is no reason for it other than the most basic. However, unless this really bothers you, there is still much to enjoy in the character if not totally in the story. The plot is basic but the writing and delivery allows for enough to engage although, as I said, it may annoy as much as please, it depends on your point of view.

Like her character or not, Moreau is certainly powerful and assured in her performance and she seems to really understand the complexities of her character – never judging or excusing anything to a point where it would be overdone. Her body language is as convincing as her dialogue and she is really a good reason for watching the film – hell, she almost makes you believe her character's reasoning and have sympathy for her (almost). The support cast are all good with similarly natural performances from Bory, Magre, de Villalonga and others; however the film belongs to Moreau in terms of performances. The other main reason for watching is the crisp and stylish direction from Malle and the wonderful black and white photography. Although it has long lost its shock value today, the love scene is pretty strong stuff considering the period.

Overall this will not appeal to the masses because it is pretty slow and is all about complex inner issues that do not lend themselves to clear plotting, easy answers or pace. This is not to say that it can cope with these problems well, because it doesn't totally manage it and it does come off a little "up itself" in how it presents some of the issues but the direction, cinematography and acting all make it worth seeing, meanwhile the material will engage whether you are annoyed by it or sympathise with it.


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