A Man and a Woman (1966)
A widow and a widower find their relationship developing into love, but their past tragedies prove hard to overcome, causing them to proceed with utmost delicacy.
A man and a woman meet by accident on a Sunday evening at their children's boarding school. Slowly the widower and widow reveal themselves to each other, with each revelation hidden by a misperception. They become closer and closer, until she reveals that she can't have a lover because her husband's memory is still far too strong. Much of the film is told wordlessly in actions or through hearing each person's thoughts.
Paris-based race-car-driver and widower Jean-Louis Duroc and movie-script supervisor and widow Anne Gauthier meet when they drop off their respective adolescent children, Antoine and Françoise, at their Deauville boarding school after their regular weekend outings. Despite being attracted to each other, they are guarded with each other, speaking as if their former spouses were still alive. Initially, they spend time together in their weekend outings with their children. As they get to know each other, as their attraction grows, and as their true marital status comes to light, they each make calculated moves to advance their relationship, however slowly and cautiously each still is in this venture. However, each must overcome some emotional baggage, especially concerning their late spouses.
Jean-Louis is a single father following his wife's suicide, and Anne is a single mother still reeling from her husband's accidental death. When the two cross paths at their children's boarding school both are wary, but they soon form a friendship that is quickly charged with romance. Yet the pair continue to struggle to overcome their past tragedies as they try to begin a new relationship.
- A young widow, Anne Gauthier (Anouk Aimée), is raising her daughter Françoise (Souad Amidou) alone following the death of her husband (Pierre Barouh) who worked as a stuntman and who died in a movie set accident that she witnessed. Still working as a film script supervisor, Anne divides her time between her home in Paris and Deauville in northern France where her daughter attends boarding school. A young widower, Jean-Louis (Jean-Louis Trintignant), is raising his son Antoine (Antoine Sire) alone following the death of his wife Valerie (Valerie Lagrange) who committed suicide after Jean-Louis was in a near fatal crash during the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Still working as a race car driver, Jean-Louis divides his time between Paris and Deauville where his son also attends boarding school.
One day Anne and Jean-Louis meet at the Deauville boarding school after Anne misses the last train back to Paris. Jean-Louis offers her a lift and the two become acquainted during the drive home, enjoying each other's company. When he drops her off, he asks if she would like to drive up together the following weekend, and she gives him her phone number. After a busy week at the track preparing for the next race, Jean-Louis calls and they meet early Sunday morning and drive to Deauville in the rain. Clearly attracted to each other, they enjoy a pleasant Sunday lunch with their children who get along well. Later that afternoon they go for a boat ride followed by a walk on the beach at sunset.
Jean-Louis spends the following week preparing for and driving in the Monte Carlo Rally in southeast France. Every day, Anne closely follows news reports of the race, which takes place in poor weather conditions along the icy roads of the French Riviera. Of the 273 cars that started the race, only 42 were able to finish, including Jean Louis's white Mustang, number 184. Watching the television coverage of the conclusion of the race, Anne sends Jean-Louis a telegram that reads, "Bravo! I love you. Anne."
That night at a dinner for the drivers at the Monte Carlo Casino, Jean-Louis receives the telegram and leaves immediately. He jumps into the same car he used during the race and drives through the night to Paris, telling himself that when a woman sends a telegram like that, you go to her no matter what. Along the way he imagines what their reunion will be like. At her Paris apartment, Jean-Louis learns that Anne is in Deauville, so he continues north. Jean-Louis finally arrives in Deauville and finds Anne and the two children playing on the beach. When they see each other, they run into each other's arms and embrace.
After dropping their children off at the boarding school, Jean-Louis and Anne drive into town where they rent a room and begin to make love with passionate tenderness. While they are in each other's arms, however, Jean-Louis senses that something is not right. Anne's memories of her deceased husband are still with her and she feels uncomfortable continuing. Anne says it would be best for her to take the train back to Paris alone. After dropping her off at the station, Jean-Louis drives home alone, unable to understand her feelings. On the train Anne can only think of Jean-Louis and their time together. Meanwhile, Jean-Louis drives south through the French countryside to the Paris train station, just as her train is arriving. As she leaves the train, she spots Jean-Louis and is surprised, hesitates briefly, and then walks toward him and they embrace.