7.8/10
7,651
39 user 47 critic

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.

Director:

Louis Malle

Writer:

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Lea Massari ... Clara Chevalier
Benoît Ferreux ... Laurent Chevalier
Daniel Gélin ... Charles Chevalier
Michael Lonsdale ... Father Henri
Ave Ninchi 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 Henri Poirier ... Uncle Leonce
Liliane Sorval Liliane Sorval ... Fernande
Corinne Kersten Corinne Kersten ... Daphne
Eric Walter Eric Walter
François Werner François Werner ... Hubert
René Bouloc ... Man at Bastille Day party
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

A souffle of a movie! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Arte boutique [France]

Country:

France | Italy | West Germany

Language:

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 »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$1,160,784
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Marc: That's her. She tells fantastic stories about the days of real brothels. She should write a book. She's been in the business 35 years. You know what she told me? "One look at a client and I know what his vice is."
Laurent Chevalier: Do I have a vice?
Marc: Sure. You just don't know what it is yet.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
MURMUR OF THE HEART (Louis Malle, 1971) ***
2 September 2006 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

Seven years before PRETTY BABY (1978), Malle directed another controversial film about the sexual awakening of a precocious teenager - in this case, a boy. As with the later film, Malle's elegant handling - suffused with feeling and humor, even irreverence - brings no portentous message and certainly no sensationalism to this theme (which culminates in an incestuous relationship between the boy and his attractive, middle-aged mother!). Even so, the complicity that goes on here between the boy and select members of his family seems to me to be wishful thinking on Malle's part (who also wrote the script) more than anything else: the boy's sexual initiation is organized by his promiscuous elder brothers and, apart from the mother-son "liaison" - which happens when she's intoxicated and is, in any case, shot in the dark and quite sensitively handled by all concerned - he's compliant of her various affairs, which actually brings him to confess to her that he never loved his father and consequently doubts his own parentage!

The acting by the entire cast - veterans and newcomers alike - is wonderful; still, watching professionals like Lea Massari (in perhaps her most important role apart from the girl who goes missing in Antonioni's L¡¦AVVENTURA [1960]), Daniel Gelin (who has aged quite a bit from his 50s heyday!), Michel Lonsdale (as a potentially paedophile priest!) and Ave Ninchi (as the children's long-suffering, heavy-set Italian maid) is especially gratifying. The score by several jazz performers, including Charlie Parker, provides perfect accompaniment to the film.

The only extra on the stand-alone Criterion release (it's also available as part of a 4-Disc Set with two other Malle films which revolve around children - LACOMBE LUCIEN [1974] and AU REVOIR, LES ENFANTS [1987]) - is the film's theatrical trailer which, amusingly, manages to incorporate in its publicity several of the most famous titles of the French New Wave!


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