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Le Bonheur (1965)

Le bonheur (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 16 May 1997 (USA)
Francois is a young carpenter married with Therese. They have two little children. All goes well, life is beautiful, the sun shines and the birds sing. One day, Francois meets Emilie, they ... See full summary »




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3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
François Chevalier
Claire Drouot ...
Thérèse Chevalier
Olivier Drouot ...
Pierrot Chevalier
Sandrine Drouot ...
Gisou Chevalier
Marie-France Boyer ...
Émilie Savignard
Marcelle Faure-Bertin ...
(as Marcelle Favre-Bertin)
Manon Lanclos
Sylvia Saurel ...
(as Sylvie Saurel)
Marc Eyraud ...
J. Forestier - le frère de François
Christian Riehl
Paul Vecchiali ...


Francois is a young carpenter married with Therese. They have two little children. All goes well, life is beautiful, the sun shines and the birds sing. One day, Francois meets Emilie, they fall in love and become lovers. He still loves his wife and wants to share his new greater happiness with her. Written by Yepok

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Seule, une femme pouvait oser faire ce film


Drama | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

16 May 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Happiness  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


The movie François and Therese are going to see starring Brigitte Bardot and Jeanne Moreau is Viva Maria! (1965) See more »


Therese states that they can see a new movie with Jeanne Moreau and Brigitte Bardot. That movie would have to be Viva Maria. However, Viva Maria was released in November 1965 while this film was released in February 1965. Therese could not see a movie at that time that wouldn't be released for nine more months. See more »


François Chevalier: Were you sad?
Émilie Savignard: Not that much. I don't like sadness.
See more »


References Viva Maria! (1965) See more »


Adagio and Fugue in C minor - KV 546
Written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
See more »

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User Reviews

Appearances; mind
14 January 2015 | by (Greece) – See all my reviews

This goes in my list of most important works. Varda soars, showing herself to be among the masters who truly understand appearances. They're no simple thing. Image is not just the depicted thing, for those who know how to use it, it's the whole space leading up to the eye that includes the mind that we bring to it, great filmmakers try to work that space.

If we arrive anywhere, it's because we walked. Lesser films comfortably carry us a little down the way, or not at all. This one will take you far and leave you there to ponder on what this new place is, but you have to walk through that space.

The departure point is an idyllic happiness given to us with pastoral colors in the countryside, a husband and wife with their two kids are frolicking under the sun, everything picture perfect, a mythic eden.

Now comes the journey. They drive back to the city, concrete begins to loom from the corner of the windshield, we imagine that here happiness will be tainted, life has to be more complex than everyone being happy. Our expectation is left hanging, they're still perfectly happy in their little home.

Soon the man meets another woman in the phone office one day, they go on a date. We imagine that now there's going to be drama, duplicity. No dice again, the man explains to her that he loves his wife no less, that love for him only adds up to encompass both. He looks honest, she accepts it. We strain to imagine dishonesty just the same, some secret misgiving for her.

There's a paean here to boundless love, love that is not ego or possessiveness but simply joy, Varda renders this as couples dancing in a tavern and freely swapping partners. Politics of love are only a small part of its appeal for me, no there's something more powerful here.

So the wife queries her husband who looks even happier these days, they're back in that idyllic patch of nature, he can't lie, he confesses. Finally we expect to see heartbreak, betrayal, hurt, but again no, she looks apprehensive but quickly seems to accept it, she says she's happy that he is, they have sex, fall asleep. But when he wakes up something has happened.

This is the story in a hurry, the rest when you see it.

This is rife for profound meditation that goes beyond opposites. Is this happiness that we see? Or maybe a better question, where is the unhappiness? At so many points in the story we imagine drama, expect it, that is how life comes to be, and yet at every point drama is waved away. We'd like to accept a life without regrets perhaps, but do we? Immediately we have complete dismantling of the melodrama, but we have something else too.

Varda has filmed a story trusting that we'll imagine all the other things, which she can leave out. She teases out only enough, a brief look of disappointment in the two women, the notion that she carried flowers down to the river. We inhabit both stories, the one we see, the other which we foreshadow behind appearances, so that all the tension becomes ours, internal. We strive to see the lying man, the betrayed wife, maybe we do. Is this happiness? Is it not? Is it?

There's more than social critique here, make no mistake, or it wouldn't haunt (even more than Vertigo). It's because it makes you walk, live, through your own mind all the way to heartbreaking betrayal and you can't unlive it. In the end Varda films the last part from the river onwards as if nothing has changed between the new pair, but something has. Has it? Does he grieve? Does he not? Who is it that tells you one or the other, or that it has to be one? Or will you just see a painted parable?

Something to meditate upon.

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