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Max mon amour (1986)

A married French woman takes a zoo chimp named Max to be her lover.


Nagisa Ôshima (as Nagisa Oshima)


Nagisa Ôshima (scenario) (as Nagisa Oshima), Jean-Claude Carrière (scenario) | 1 more credit »
2 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Charlotte Rampling ... Margaret Jones
Anthony Higgins ... Peter Jones
Victoria Abril ... Maria
Anne-Marie Besse Anne-Marie Besse ... Suzanne
Nicole Calfan ... Hélène
Pierre Étaix ... Le détective / Detective
Bernard Haller ... Robert
Sabine Haudepin Sabine Haudepin ... Françoise, la prostituée
Christopher Hovik Christopher Hovik ... Nelson Jones
Fabrice Luchini ... Nicolas
Diana Quick ... Camille
Milena Vukotic ... Margaret's Mother
Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu ... Archibald (as Bernard Pierre Donnadieu)
Thomas Austerweil Thomas Austerweil
Bonnafet Tarbouriech ... Le vétérinaire (as Pierre Bonnafet)


Peter is a British diplomat in Paris. He is told by a detective that his wife, Margaret, has rented a flat where she spends quite a few hours monkeying around with a lover - a chimpanzee called Max. The relationship is serious, heartfelt, and sexual, so Peter invites the chimp to live with them. Written by lament

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A Love Triangle of Primate Proportion. See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some aberrant sexual content | See all certifications »



France | USA


French | English

Release Date:

22 October 1986 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Max, Meu Amor See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Co-writer Jean-Claude Carrière, producer Serge Silberman and actor Milena Vukotic were all frequent collaborators with Luis Buñuel, and Max mon amour (1986) resembles his work in its understated, unsensational treatment of frequently outrageous events. See more »


Referenced in Scrivere Max mon amour (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

a keyhole for the audience to observe a behavioral pattern says as much of living beings' universality as of their idiosyncrasy
5 December 2017 | by lasttimeisawSee all my reviews

MAX, MON AMOUR received a tepid reaction when it debuted in Cannes in 1986, a French- American co-production under the rein of the late Japanese provocateur Nagisa Ôshima (1932- 2013), which would become his penultimate feature film.

Since then, it has become a succès de scandale which is less being watched than hyped due to its subversive content, but in fact, most of the time, it suffices as a tongue-in-cheek comedy, a marital satire borne out of Jean-Claude Carrière's urtext, Peter Jones (Higgins) is a liberal-minded British diplomat working and living in Paris, one day, to his utter dismay, he finds out the paramour of his wife Margaret (Rampling), is a male chimpanzee named Max, beggar belief, the couple decides to try out a kind of ménage-à-trois by bringing Max into their official residence, where also lives their towhead school-age son Nelson (Hovik), and believe it or not, in the end of the story, their co-habitation actually works.

Cagey about the salacious details of the relationship between Margaret and her "supposed" primate lover, Ôshima sides with the husband's point-of-view to parse the couple's tug-of-war, firstly, Peter takes up the gauntlet to show his magnanimity by accepting the situation without letting it get under his skin, then, driven by curiosity and jealousy, his attitude towards Max seesaws between hostility and respectable concern, an experiment of corroborating the inter- species sexual act is a bust, whereas an episode of shotgun scare is just a cheeky practice of cheap tension.

It is an immoral cock-and-bull story, menace is palpable, but vice has never descended into the picture and what sagaciously affirming is the film's brazen stance on the dynamism between the couple, it is always Margaret who has the say-so in their states of affairs, however preposterous and quixotic, there is a deep respect unites them as an entity, Peter stoutly fights her corner in the face of extrinsic parties, whether it is a zoologist or a neuropsychologist, accordingly, she also quite frank about her feelings, even stays on friendly terms with Peter's secretary-cum-lover Camille (a gratingly loud Diana Quick).

It is a surprise that Ôshima chooses not to go out on a limb in salting the plot by bestowing Max with a feral complexion, alternatively played by real chimps and stunts in verisimilar costumes (solely by this reviewer's reckoning), Max is presented as a meek pet, not dangerous, sulky at most, albeit his human-like size, even becomes mawkishly lovelorn and loses his appetite when Margaret is absent. Granted, there is a touching and tender naiveness seething beneath its surrealistic premise, which also is not exactly congruent with Ôshima's make-up if one might venture to surmise.

Both Rampling and Higgins tackle the thorny subject with bravura, what percolates from their collective effort is a beguilingly unfeigned sophistication stemming from a bourgeois background, and Ôshima conspiratorially sends up their caprices with deadpan seriousness, not to mention a non sequitur triumph appended to the part where Max momentarily goes missing in the woods.

Ultimately, MAX, MON AMOUR doesn't come to provoke moralists, but offers a keyhole for the audience to observe a behavioral pattern says as much of living beings' universality as their idiosyncrasy, the point is made, but reverberations are somewhat deadened when Ôshima settles for a middle road between "funny and die" in his overall approach.

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