The intersecting stories of three people who face difficult choices in life-changing situations are used to illustrate the theories espoused by Henri Laborit about human behavior and the relationship between the self and society.


Alain Resnais


Jean Gruault (scenario and dialogue), Henri Laborit (writings)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 11 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Gérard Depardieu ... René Ragueneau
Nicole Garcia ... Janine Garnier
Roger Pierre ... Jean Le Gall
Nelly Borgeaud ... Arlette Le Gall
Pierre Arditi ... Zambeaux, le représentant de la direction générale à Paris
Gérard Darrieu ... Léon Veestrate
Philippe Laudenbach ... Michel Aubert
Marie Dubois ... Thérèse Ragueneau
Henri Laborit ... Self
Bernard Malaterre Bernard Malaterre ... Le père de Jean
Laurence Roy Laurence Roy ... La mère de Jean
Alexandre Rignault ... Le grand-père de Jean / Jean's Grandfather
Véronique Silver Véronique Silver ... La mère de Janine
Jean Lescot Jean Lescot ... Le père de Janine
Geneviève Mnich Geneviève Mnich ... La mère de René


Prof. Henri Laborit uses the stories of the lives of three people to discuss behaviorist theories of survival, combat, rewards and punishment, and anxiety. René is a technical manager at a textile factory and must face the anxiety caused by corporate downsizing. Janine is a self-educated actress/stylist who learns that the wife of her lover is dying and must decide to let them reunite. Jean is a controversial career-climbing writer/politician at a crossroads in life. Written by Dragomir R. Radev <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama | Romance


PG | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list. See more »


Henri Laborit: We can compare the unconscious to a deep sea. And what we call consciousness is the foam that appears sporadically on the crest of the wave. It is the most superficial part of that sea, buffeted by the wind.
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Referenced in The Player (1992) See more »

User Reviews

This film did for me what ADAPTATION could not. It pierced my heart.
8 July 2003 | by SinnermanSee all my reviews

Yes, as my summary went, Mon Oncle d'Amerique did for me, what the clever but emotionally vacant "Adaption" did not(could not). It impaled me.

I have always had a bad taste in my mouth with that Jonze/ Kaufman offering, because it was too smug for its own good and worse, it was emotionally condescending.

But here comes a classic that thumped its nose at conventional human drama and yet came out becoming more humane than most films I have ever seen. Who knew Biological Psychology/ Behavioural Science could breathe such life and heart into a seemingly inconsequential story?

Anyone know where to find a transcript of the film? The last lines uttered by the Doctor summed up everything I loved about this film(and I have seen it just this once!!).


Again, many thanks to my enlightened film buff friends I have met on the net for their strong recommendation of this exceptional master work. For my experiential education in film has received that giant leap with this film.

Will definitely revisit this thought provoking film to fully soak in its wisdom and movie magic. One of the best films I have seen this year!! If you can get hold of it, by all means take that leap, much like I did and be immeasurably rewarded.

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Release Date:

17 December 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

My American Uncle See more »


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Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)| Black and White (archive footage)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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