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La maman et la putain
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The Mother and the Whore (1973) More at IMDbPro »La maman et la putain (original title)


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Down 4% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Jean Eustache (scenario and dialogue)
View company contact information for The Mother and the Whore on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
17 May 1973 (France) See more »
In Paris, the pedantic Alexandre lives with his mate Marie in her apartment, an open relationship. Alexandre... See more » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
3 wins & 1 nomination See more »
(20 articles)
Gaspar Noé Talks the Sentimental Boner of ‘Love,’ Pubic Hair, and Equal Pleasure
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User Reviews:
"In Paris, lovers have their own strange ways." See more (33 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Bernadette Lafont ... Marie

Jean-Pierre Léaud ... Alexandre
Françoise Lebrun ... Veronika
Isabelle Weingarten ... Gilberte
Jacques Renard ... Alexandre's Friend
Jean-Noël Picq ... Offenbach's Fan
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jean-Claude Biette ... Café Les Deux Magots' Customer (uncredited)
Pierre Cottrell ... (uncredited)
Jessa Darrieux ... (uncredited)
Jean Douchet ... Café de Flore's Customer (uncredited)
Douchka ... (uncredited)
Bernard Eisenschitz ... Café de Flore's Customer (uncredited)
Jean Eustache ... Man in Sunglasses in Store (uncredited)
Berthe Granval ... (uncredited)
Caroline Loeb ... (uncredited)
Marinka Matuszewski ... (uncredited)
Geneviève Mnich ... (uncredited)
Noël Simsolo ... Café de Flore's Customer (uncredited)

André Téchiné ... Café Les Deux Magots' Customer (uncredited)

Directed by
Jean Eustache 
Writing credits
Jean Eustache (scenario and dialogue)

Produced by
Pierre Cottrell .... executive producer
Vincent Malle .... co-producer: V.M. Productions (uncredited)
Bob Rafelson .... producer (uncredited)
Cinematography by
Pierre Lhomme 
Film Editing by
Denise de Casabianca 
Jean Eustache 
Costume Design by
Production Management
Claude Bertrand .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Luc Béraud .... assistant director
Rémy Duchemin .... assistant director
Sound Department
Nara Kollery .... sound mixer
Paul Lainé .... sound recordist
Jean-Pierre Ruh .... sound recordist
Camera and Electrical Department
Michel Cénet .... assistant camera
Pierre Lhomme .... camera operator
Bernard Prim .... still photographer
Jacques Renard .... assistant camera
Editorial Department
Monique Prim .... assistant editor
Other crew
Irina Lhomme .... script girl (as Irène Lhomme)

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"La maman et la putain" - France (original title)
See more »
Argentina:217 min | Japan:217 min | UK:215 min | USA:210 min | France:217 min | Portugal:202 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

This film is based on the real-life relationship between director Jean Eustache and actress Francoise Lebrun (who plays Veronika).See more »
Continuity: While reading the book of Gestapo at his friend's home, Alexandre is holding a cigarette in his right hand in the close-up. In the next shot he is only holding the book.See more »
Veronika:I'm not reproaching you... On the contrary. My sadness isn't a reproach, you know. It's an old sadness I've dragged around for five years. Nothing to do with you.See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Childstar (2004)See more »
La Chanson des FortifsSee more »


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21 out of 27 people found the following review useful.
"In Paris, lovers have their own strange ways.", 27 April 2008
Author: MisterWhiplash from United States

In what could have been seen as a coup towards the sexual "revolution" (purposefully I use quotations for that word), Jean Eustache wrote and directed The Mother and the Whore as a poetic, damning critique of those who can't seem to get enough love. If there is a message to this film- and I'd hope that the message would come only after the fact of what else this Ben-Hur length feature has to offer- it's that in order to love, honestly, there has to be some level of happiness, of real truth. Is it possible to have two lovers? Some can try, but what is the outcome if no one can really have what they really want, or feel they can even express to say what they want?

What is the truth in the relationships that Alexandre (Jean-Pierre Leaud) has with the women around him? He's a twenty-something pseudo-intellectual, not with any seeming job and he lives off of a woman, Marie (Bernadette Lafont) slightly older than him and is usually, if not always, his lover, his last possible love-of-his-life left him, and then right away he picks up a woman he sees on the street, Veronika (Françoise Lebrun), who perhaps reminds him of her. Soon what unfolds is the most subtly torrid love triangle ever put on film, where the psychological strings are pulled with the cruelest words and the slightest of gestures. At first we think it might be all about what will happen to Alexandre, but we're mistaken. The women are so essential to this question of love and sex that they have to be around, talking on and on, for something to sink in.

We're told that part of the sexual revolution, in theory if not entirely in practice (perhaps it was, I can't say having not been alive in the period to see it first-hand), was that freedom led to a lack of inhibitions. But Eustache's point, if not entirely message, is that it's practically impossible to have it both ways: you can't have people love you and expect to get the satisfaction of ultimate companionship that arrives with "f***ing", as the characters refer over and over again.

The Mother and the Whore's strengths as far as having the theme is expressing this dread beneath the promiscuity, the lack of monogamy, while also stimulating the intellect in the talkiest talk you've ever seen in a movie. At the same time we see a character like Alexandre, who probably loves to hear himself talk whether it's about some movie he saw or something bad from his past, Eustache makes it so that the film itself isn't pretentious- though it could appear to be- but that it's about pretentiousness, what lies beneath those who are covering up for their internal flaws, what they need to use when they're ultimately alone in the morning.

If you thought films like Before Sunrise/Sunset were talky relationship flicks, you haven't met this. But as Eustache revels in the dialogs these characters have, sometimes trivial, or 'deep', or sexual, or frank, or occasionally extremely (or in a subdued manner) emotional, it's never, ever uninteresting or boring. On the contrary, for those who can't get enough of a *good* talky film, it's exceptional. While his style doesn't call out to the audaciousness that came with his forerunners in the nouvelle vague a dozen years beforehand, Eustache's new-wave touch is with the characters, and then reverberating on them.

This is realism with a spike of attitude, with things at time scathing and sarcastic, crude and without shame in expression. All three of the actors are so glued to their characters that we can't ever perceive them as 'faking' an emotion or going at all into melodrama. It's almost TOO good in naturalistic/realism terms, but for Eustache's material there is no other way around it. Luckily Leaud delivers the crowning chip of his career of the period, and both ladies, particularly Labrun as the "whore" Veronika (a claim she staggeringly refutes in the film's climax of sorts in one unbroken shot). And, as another touch, every so often, the director will dip into a quiet moment of thought, of a character sitting by themselves, listening to a record, and in contemplation or quiet agony. This is probably the biggest influence on Jim Jarmusch, who dedicated his film Broken Flowers to Eustache and has one scene in particular that is lifted completely (and lovingly) in approach from the late Parisian.

Sad to say, before I saw Broken Flowers, I never heard of Eustache or this film, and procuring it has become quite a challenge (not available on US DVD, and on VHS so rare it took many months of tracking at various libraries). Not a minute of that time was wasted; the Mother and the Whore is truly beautiful work, one of the best of French relationship dramas, maybe even just one of the most staggeringly lucid I've seen from the country in general. It's complex, it's sweet, it's cold, it's absorbing, and it's very long, perhaps too long. It's also satisfying on the kind of level that I'd compare to Scenes from a Marriage; true revelations about the human condition continue to arise 35 years after each film's release.

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