Murmur of the Heart (1971)
"Le souffle au coeur" (original title)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  17 October 1971 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 6,029 users  
Reviews: 35 user | 41 critic

This is a jolly coming-of-age story about a 14-year-old boy named Laurent Chevalier who is growing up in bourgeois surroundings in Dijon, France. This is France in the mid-1950s rather than... See full summary »



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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Clara Chevalier
Benoît Ferreux ...
Laurent Chevalier
Charles Chevalier
Father Henri
Ave Ninchi ...
Gila von Weitershausen ...
Freda (the prostitute)
Fabien Ferreux ...
Marc Winocourt ...
Micheline Bona ...
Aunt Claudine
Henri Poirier ...
Uncle Leonce
Liliane Sorval ...
Corinne Kersten ...
Eric Walter
François Werner ...
René Bouloc ...
Man at Bastille Day party


This is a jolly coming-of-age story about a 14-year-old boy named Laurent Chevalier who is growing up in bourgeois surroundings in Dijon, France. This is France in the mid-1950s rather than America in the 1990s. Thus, Laurent is unharmed by events which would irreparably shatter the self-esteem of a modern American adolescent: he gets drunk, he smokes, he has sex, he is smothered by his mother, he is ignored by his father, a priest makes a pass at him, he gets rheumatoid fever, etc. There's enough scandalous behavior in this film to make 100 made-for-TV movies, and yet this is a very happy and oddly innocent tale. Written by Tim Horrigan <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Comedy | Drama


R | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

17 October 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Murmur of the Heart  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$1,200,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


Writer/director Louis Malle based many aspects of the protagonist Laurent's life on his own experiences growing up. This included his love of jazz, curiosity about literature, the "tyranny" of his two older brothers who tried to introduce him to sex, and having a heart murmur. However, Malle grew up in the 1930's and 40's, not the 50's as Laurent does. See more »


When Laurent is getting hosed down, he asks which side he should turn to. The attendant says either one because she'll do both. Only his left side gets hosed down. See more »


References The Barefoot Contessa (1954) See more »

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User Reviews

Moving, controversial but lovable film
13 September 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Louis Malle perhaps has directed his most controversial film about Laurent and his complicated relationship with his mother. Because he is the youngest of three boys, he is still a virgin and coddled like the family baby. The film seems to last forever but in a beautiful moving way. We watch as his beautiful Italian vivacious mother seems to attract admirers even her own son. Without discussing the film's oedipal issues, the film has some very pleasant scenes and some that are not so pleasant. Maybe Malle is trying to bring reality of a young body's sexuality. His two older brothers are not the sympathetic or kind older brothers to him especially. Laurent is truly the film's most important character but his mother is definitely the most important figure in his life. As he comes of age, she has to grasp with losing him to another woman, the inevitable outcome of any mother-son relationship. We learn a lot about Laurent's mother too in this film. While sexuality is another theme in this classic film, there are touching scenes between the Laurent and his mother. As he finds himself attracted to other women, he becomes daring, insulting and even unlikable. I won't give away the ending of this film. But it's worth watching even today more than 30 years later, I cannot believe it's older than me. It seems like it could have been done today and that's why it's a classic film.

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