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The Woman Next Door (1981)

La femme d'à côté (original title)
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Two ex-lovers wind up living next door to each other with their respective spouses. Forbidden passions ensue.



(original scenario), (original scenario) | 1 more credit »
2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
... Bernard Coudray
... Mathilde Bauchard
Henri Garcin ... Philippe Bauchard
Michèle Baumgartner ... Arlette Coudray
Roger Van Hool ... Roland Duguet
Véronique Silver ... Madame Odile Jouve
Philippe Morier-Genoud ... Doctor
Nicole Vauthier
Muriel Combe
Olivier Becquaert ... Thomas Coudray


Madame Jouve, the narrator, tells the tragedy of Bernard and Mathilde. Bernard was living happily with his wife Arlette and his son Thomas. One day, a couple, Philippe and Mathilde Bauchard, moves into the next house. This is the accidental reunion of Bernard and Mathilde, who had a passionate love affair years ago. The relationship revives... A somber study of human feelings. Written by Yepok

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

30 September 1981 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The Woman Next Door  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


The movie Bernard is talking about during the first meeting with Odile Jouve is Tod Browning's The Unknown (1927). See more »


[last lines]
Madame Odile Jouve: I suspect that Mathilde and Bernard won't be buried together. if I had to select an epitaph for them it would be, "Neither with you, nor without you.", but I doubt whether I'll be asked.
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References Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962) See more »

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User Reviews

Not a new plot but it's Truffaut and he makes it look like new
5 January 2012 | by See all my reviews

The magic of movies are really present in here, otherwise how come a story that sounds so familiar to us looks very fresh, all brand new to your eyes and ears? François Truffaut makes of "La femme d'à Côté" ("The Woman Next Door"), an apparent clichéd love story, to have the enormous feel of being something complete unknown to us (Obvisouly the film has its moments of originality though).

Bernard (Gérard Depardieu) lives in a small community along with wife (Michèle Baumgartner) and his son, all is happy and well until the house next to his gets bought by the Bauchard (Henri Garcin and Fanny Ardant), a friendly couple, being Mathilde, the woman of the film's title, an old affair of Bernard. And you don't need to be a genius to guess that these two will start off again from the point where they stopped, after years without seeing each other. What is quite obvious as well is that the combination old flames on a new affair might have some tragic consequences for everybody involved.

In "La femme d'à Côté" Truffaut finally managed to balance the instabilities between the characters involved in a relationship, something that, at my view, was only noticed when we pay attention to the female characters like Catherine from "Jules et Jim" and the title character of "The Story of Adele H." in which only the women acted out of desperation, lost their sanity and went through hell with their love affairs. In this more original scenario the man is driven to the point of madness, completely alienated from everything, just thinking in living with his lover (even though, again, it's the woman who suffers more throughout the film). It is balanced since in the other classics the men didn't seem to care much for what was happening to the women (specially in "Adele H." the man was completely cold, ruthless towards the girl who at one time was the love of his life).

And who narrates Bernard and Mathilde's story? An old lady named Madame Odile (nicely played by Véronique Silver), a handicapped woman who survived a suicide attempt by jumping from a building right after being rejected by the man she loved (You can take your conclusions from here). Her story is perfectly connected with the main story of the film.

The way the story swings from a soft comedy, quite gentle in its pace, from a romantic film to a complex drama, all these changes were greatly presented, the variations work because we have a director that really knows how to perform them. But this film doesn't go without some problems, there's some difficult things to accept and see (like when Bernard can't hold any longer his anguish and decides, in front of everybody during a party to show his love for Mathilde in the most dreadful way, a real scandal) as things happening in reality (and most of the film looks realistic so why this created situations in which people couldn't relate with it?). Small problems, nothing so distractive or ruining, neither something that deserves a negative review (the two bad ones featured on the site are amazingly incoherent, illogical, and ridiculous just to say a few words about them).

If the story isn't good enough to make you watch this film, at least go for the director and the actors involved with it, Ardant and Depardieu on their greatest level of acting playing what could be a perfect couple if it wasn't for their complicated lives with their spouses. A special moment from them is their first kiss at the market's parking garage when the woman simply faints on him. Looks absurd but can be explained as something really powerful, all those emotions resurrecting, coming to life again. "What now?" or "Should we start all over again?". And that was only the beginning, going for a newer ending. This time for good. Neither with you or without you. 9/10

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