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Murmur of the Heart (1971)

Le souffle au coeur (original title)
As France is nearing the end of the first Indochina War, an open-minded teenage boy finds himself torn between a rebellious urge to discover love, and the ever-present, almost dominating affection of his beloved mother.


Louis Malle


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





Cast overview, first billed only:
Lea Massari ... Clara Chevalier (as Léa Massari)
Benoît Ferreux ... Laurent Chevalier (as Benoit Ferreux)
Daniel Gélin ... Charles Chevalier (as Daniel Gelin)
Michael Lonsdale ... Father Henri (as Michel Lonsdale)
Ave Ninchi ... Augusta
Gila von Weitershausen ... Freda (the prostitute)
Fabien Ferreux Fabien Ferreux ... Thomas
Marc Winocourt Marc Winocourt ... Marc
Micheline Bona Micheline Bona ... Aunt Claudine
Henri Poirier ... Uncle Léonce
Liliane Sorval Liliane Sorval ... Fernande
Corinne Kersten Corinne Kersten ... Daphné
Eric Walter Eric Walter ... Laurent's friend
François Werner François Werner ... Hubert
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 <horrigan@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A souffle of a movie! See more »


Comedy | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


While the incest aspects of the story were not autobiographical, Louis Malle did in fact end up sharing a hotel room with his mother as a child while on a trip to treat his heart murmur due to "bizarre" circumstances. 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 »


Clara Chevalier: Why not take things as they come?
Laurent Chevalier: Meaning?
Clara Chevalier: I don't know. Begin at the beginning. Wait to experience things yourself. And there's plenty of time. I'm not rushing you. Everyone has to discover love for himself. Lots of things can happen between a man and a woman. Better to find out for yourself, not from a book.
See more »

User Reviews

Essentially light but ultimately rather heavy
31 March 2019 | by christopher-underwoodSee all my reviews

Essentially light but ultimately rather heavy domestic drama involving an overly motherly mother and a child pushed this way and that by her and his two older brothers. The early scenes in the rich folks household, I assume, are intended to be amusing but looked at today the bullying of servants looks pretty shameful especially with the ongoing background news of French involvement in 'Indo China'. On the other hand the film skips along very nicely and although not a lot happens at first, the film is very well shot and we are always aware that something is going to happen. We also have a good idea what that something might be as mother and child continue their social intimacies. The sexy mum is played by Lea Massari who was the girl who went missing in L'Avventura ten years before and she performs well here, as does the young lad, who seems to be able to do no wrong, played by Benoit Ferreux. Never quite as light and fluffy as one might imagine the denouement, nevertheless, must have stunned audiences back in the day.

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Official Sites:

Official Site [France]


France | Italy | West Germany


French | Italian

Release Date:

17 October 1971 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Murmur of the Heart See more »

Filming Locations:

Dijon, Côte-d'Or, France See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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