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The Mother and the Whore (1973)

La maman et la putain (original title)
The chauvinist Alexandre balances relationships with several women, including the maternal Marie and the sexually liberated Veronika, in the post-1968 intellectual scene of Paris.

Director:

Jean Eustache

Writer:

Jean Eustache (scenario and dialogue)
Reviews
3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Bernadette Lafont ... Marie
Jean-Pierre Léaud ... Alexandre
Françoise Lebrun ... Veronika
Isabelle Weingarten Isabelle Weingarten ... Gilberte
Jacques Renard Jacques Renard ... Alexandre's Friend
Jean-Noël Picq Jean-Noël Picq ... Offenbach's Fan
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Storyline

In Paris, the pedantic Alexandre lives with his mate Marie in her apartment, an open relationship. Alexandre, who is idle and chauvinist, spends his days reading, drinking and shagging women. After flirting with his former affair, Gilberte, who tells him that she will marry soon her boyfriend, Alexandre meets the Laenne Hospital nurse Veronika Osterwald and they schedule a date. Alexandre learns that Veronika is a promiscuous woman that loves to shag and introduces her to Marie. They have a threesome and Alexandre has a crush on Veronika. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

17 May 1973 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

The Mother and the Whore See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Veronika: [after seeing Alexandre making the bed by jumping with the sheets on top of it] Funny way to make a bed.
Alexandre: I saw it done in a film. Films teach you how to live, how to make a bed.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Climax (2018) See more »

Soundtracks

La Belle Hélène
Music by Jacques Offenbach
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User Reviews

 
one of the greatest films ever made
20 September 2003 | by yarnsSee all my reviews

It is not an easy film to watch - it is over three and a half hours long and it is composed entirely of conversations. Yet it is so incredibly compelling and ruthlessly observational of the human character, that it is, in my humble opinion, one of the very greatest films of all time.

The film is depressing, cynical and cruel. (If you want something uplifting, see Jacques Rivette's fantastic Céline and Julie Go Boating, which was made around the same time). It shows the idealism of the late 1960s to be nothing different from the society that it was trying to change.

It involves a supposedly liberated ménage-à-trois between Alexandre (played by Jean-Pierre Leaud), Marie (Bernadette Lafont) and Veronika (Francoise Lebrun). Yet Alexandre is shown to be as chauvinistic and jealous as any other man. The women are exposed as being willingly subservient and defining their femininity through the male gaze.

The film is an extremely icy end to the highly revolutionary French New Wave. This movement was one of the most significant movements in film history and had a profound effect on cinema as we know it. Jean-Pierre Leaud was one of the key actors of the New Wave, having starred (among other films) in the influential Les Quatres Cent Coups (1959) by Francois Truffaut as a rebellious teenager. Director Jean Eustache is not as well known as other directors from the New Wave, but he should be.

There is no improvisation (unlike in John Cassavetes's similar films made in the US) and the dialogue comes from real-life conversations. The film is resonant with Eustache's personal experiences. For example, Francoise Lebrun was a former lover of Eustache. Eustache himself committed suicide in 1981 and the real-life person that the character Marie was based on, did too. The anger and bitterness all culminate in a harrowing monologue by Veronika delivered directly to the audience, breaking down the coldly objective nature of the rest of the film. This mesmerising, personal, and honest filmic statement remains one of the most revealing films of human nature around.


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