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That Most Important Thing: Love (1975)

L'important c'est d'aimer (original title)
Servais Mont, a photographer, meets Nadine Chevalier who earns her money starring in cheap soft-core movies. Trying to help her, he borrows the money from the loan sharks to finance the ... See full summary »


Andrzej Zulawski


Christopher Frank (novel), Christopher Frank (adaptation) | 2 more credits »
2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Romy Schneider ... Nadine Chevalier
Fabio Testi ... Servais Mont
Jacques Dutronc ... Jacques Chevalier
Claude Dauphin ... Mazelli
Roger Blin Roger Blin ... Le père de Servais / Servais's father
Gabrielle Doulcet Gabrielle Doulcet ... Madame Mazelli
Michel Robin ... Raymond Lapade
Guy Mairesse Guy Mairesse ... Laurent Messala
Katia Tchenko ... Myriam, la putain
Nicoletta Machiavelli ... Luce, la femme de Lapade
Klaus Kinski ... Karl-Heinz Zimmer
Paul Bisciglia Paul Bisciglia ... L'assistant-metteur en scène
Henri Coutet Henri Coutet ... Le père de Jacques (scenes deleted)
Sylvain Levignac Sylvain Levignac ... Le premier homme dans la brasserie (as Sylvain)
Andrée Tainsy Andrée Tainsy ... La mère de Jacques (scenes deleted)


Servais Mont, a photographer, meets Nadine Chevalier who earns her money starring in cheap soft-core movies. Trying to help her, he borrows the money from the loan sharks to finance the theatrical production of 'Richard III' and gives Nadine a part. Nadine is torn apart between Servais, for whom she is falling in love, and her husband Jacques, to whom she has moral obligations. Written by Yuri German <blsidt1@imf.org>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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France | Italy | West Germany



Release Date:

April 1977 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

L'important c'est d'aimer See more »

Filming Locations:

Paris, France


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,370, 14 July 2017, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$18,444, 24 September 2017
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (cut)

Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


'Romy Schneider' considered this movie her best work. See more »


Jacques Chevalier: J'ai rêvé de toi. Tu me versais du Coca-Cola dans l'oreille... Une vilaine mort, croyez-moi !
See more »


References Son of Zorro (1947) See more »


Ballade Dérisoire
Written and Performed by Georges Delerue Et Son Orchestre
See more »

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User Reviews

a pessimistic account of love, in its purest but strangely tepid manifestation
3 July 2016 | by lasttimeisawSee all my reviews

Hardly anything witty about love has dawned on Zulawski's third feature, an almost exclusively chamber drama, where a burgeoning attraction between a pornography photographer Servais Mont (Testi) and a second-rate actress Nadine Chevalier (Schneider), has barely taken off from the platonic struggle, because Nadine is married to Jacques (Dutronc), to whom she bears a tangible fusion of gratitude, responsibility and affection, which complicates their situation into a torrid emotional abyss so as to testify that love is indeed the most inscrutable, unpredictable, yet the most important thing.

Crammed in the high-ceiling, antique-looking Parisian apartments and loci like theatre, bar and hospital, its mise-en-scène strains to stay claustrophobic, fluid and quivering, signals the characters' shaky states, but, Zulawski and the screenwriter Christopher Frank fail to let their emotions run the full gamut to reach out its dazzled viewers, a stately but shallowly anaemic Testi cannot portray a role, whose inner depth is apparently out of his league, fumbles and routinely daydreams from scene to scene, his fervent gaze can not justify Servais' actions, his thoughts, and the limp dialogue doesn't help either.

Ms. Schneider, won Best Actress in the first-ever César Awards, is palpably more tapped into her role, sending off her raw charisma into her inwardly paralysed psyche, she tries to be frank with her own feelings, desire, dignity and pride at her own peril, but there are too many smoke and mirrors around to indulgently mystify an uncompounded, and fragmented story-line, the only thing to ameliorate the faint exasperation is when the pure dramatic sequences take the stage: Kinski's spit-fire flare-up is a mood-enforcer, Dutronc stands out in his chummy whims and delightfully erratic behavioural conundrum, a peculiar man who withdraws into a reprieve from, in an obvious tenor, a husband's functionality (abruptly falls into slumber so that his wife can only hopelessly play with herself to slake her desire), but also hatches up something seemingly unspeakable and inexplicable with Servais through an undertone of self-abandonment and total capitulation, in a muscle-versus-quirk contest over the same woman.

Zulawski's highbrow ambition to extract something refine and sophisticated out of the triangular deadlock doesn't consummately do the trick, in the end, Servais has to pay his debt with his blood and internal bleeding, from a father figure Mazelli (Dauphin), in his case, love IS the most important thing, if he can endure all the pain both physically and mentally, to demonstrate his unconditional devotion.

Georges Delerue's score is ever so conspicuous whenever a close-up is zoomed in between Servais and Nadine, to cloyingly illustrate their passion, otherwise, it remains forbidding and sinister, circles around a pessimistic account of love, in its purest but strangely tepid manifestation.

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