L'ennui (1998)

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A philosophy teacher restless with the need to do something with his life meets a young woman suspected of driving an artist to his death. He finds the very simple Cecilia irritating but ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Kramer ...
Alice Grey ...
Cécilia's Mother
Maurice Antoni ...
Cécilia's Father
Tom Ouedraogo ...
Patrick Arrachequesne ...
Mirtha Caputi Medeiros ...
Meyers' concierge
Pierre Chevalier ...
University dean
Oury Milshtein ...
Anne-Sophie Morillon ...
Marc Chouppart ...
Cécile Reigher ...
Ferdinand's girlfriend
Antoine Beau ...


A philosophy teacher restless with the need to do something with his life meets a young woman suspected of driving an artist to his death. He finds the very simple Cecilia irritating but develops a sexual rapport with her. Obsessed with the need to own and tormented by her inability to respond to him, he becomes increasingly violent in a quest he can't name - a quest that slowly begins to undermine his certainties. Written by L.H. Wong <lhw@sfs.org.sg>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Romance | Drama


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Parents Guide:






Release Date:

16 December 1998 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Ania  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$14,064 (USA) (8 October 1999)


$36,666 (USA) (15 October 1999)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Sophie: Abstinence is turning you sour; give it up.
Martin: I have.
Sophie: Really? Do I know her?
Martin: No, I met her in odd circumstances a few weeks ago.
Sophie: Really? You must be pleased.
Martin: You're quite wrong, I don't like her at all. She's totally uninteresting. I'm trying to get rid of her.
Sophie: Why? Is she ugly?
Martin: Not particularly.
Sophie: Is she stupid then?
Martin: No. Not at all. She never says anything stupid. It's complicated. She bores me. I have no contact with her. Or rather only physical contact.
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References Jade (1988) See more »


Siegfried Idyl
Composed by Richard Wagner (as Wagner)
Performed by Lizt Chamber Orchestra
Conducted by Ervin Lukács (as Ervin Lukacs)
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User Reviews

1 real modern man, 1 mythological Helena
13 October 2001 | by (Vienna, Austria) – See all my reviews

Imagine a relationship divided into two parts: the smaller one is sex and the rest is talking – about sex, sex and love.

Such is the relationship between Martin and Cécilia in this wonderful movie. I say wonderful because although this premise doesn't sound too entertaining throughout almost two hours, I was really amazed and didn't feel l'ennui – boredom at any phase of the film. Beyond the sex scenes (Sophie Guillemin looks really great, I must say…) and the endless interrogations Martin subjects Cécilia to, the action somehow unfolds and unfolds and in the end we know that we have not only seen a philosophical love film like `Before Sunrise' but a real STORY, a unified whole.

Martin's character is precisely copied from real life by author Alberto Moravia and perfectly portrayed by Charles Berling. This kind of man, apparently philosophical, but actually egocentric, possessive and concerned only about himself, is in my opinion the only realistic modern kind of man who is worth building a fictitious story around. Of course, this story shows, with Martin, mainly the negative qualities of the `generation X'-man.

Cécilia's character holds some problems for me. Obviously, Cédric Kahn is one of those filmmakers whose movies are perfect entertainment, but you're not allowed to think about them later because you catch on things that are truly unconvincing but would destroy the whole movie if you changed them: the person of Cécilia is like Helena in the Greek mythology. She cannot exist in reality. She is just an ideal, completely freed from every kind of feeling or humanity. She answers to Martin's questions eagerly and tirelessly and she has hardly any opinion about anything and that's what drives him crazy – that's what the whole movie is built upon. But a Greek Helena doesn't fit into the amazingly realistic world the movie shows: it's impossible to imagine that she had a life before the beginning of the film and will have one after the end.

By focusing on Martin and his view alle the time, Cédric Kahn is able to prevent us from realizing this while watching and that's a plus for him. However, it is a remarkable flaw in a movie I enjoyed very much. It's a little bit like in `The Sixth Sense': Show one more scene, and the whole movie becomes senseless.

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