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L'ennui (1998)

Martin is a middle-aged philosophy teacher in the midst of a mid-life crisis. Lacking direction or purpose in his life, he initiates an affair with Cécilia, a young artist's model who might... See full summary »

Director:

Cédric Kahn

Writers:

Cédric Kahn (adaptation), Laurence Ferreira Barbosa (adaptation) | 1 more credit »
1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Charles Berling ... Martin
Sophie Guillemin ... Cécilia
Arielle Dombasle ... Sophie
Robert Kramer Robert Kramer ... Meyers
Alice Grey Alice Grey ... Cécilia's Mother
Maurice Antoni Maurice Antoni ... Cécilia's Father
Tom Ouedraogo Tom Ouedraogo ... Momo
Patrick Arrachequesne Patrick Arrachequesne ... Doctor
Mirtha Caputi Medeiros Mirtha Caputi Medeiros ... Meyers' concierge
Pierre Chevalier Pierre Chevalier ... University dean
Oury Milshtein Oury Milshtein ... Jean-Paul
Anne-Sophie Morillon Anne-Sophie Morillon ... Agnes
Marc Chouppart Marc Chouppart ... Ferdinand
Cécile Reigher Cécile Reigher ... Ferdinand's girlfriend
Antoine Beau Antoine Beau ... Pierre
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Storyline

Martin is a middle-aged philosophy teacher in the midst of a mid-life crisis. Lacking direction or purpose in his life, he initiates an affair with Cécilia, a young artist's model who might have killed her former lover with the intensity of her sexual appetite. They share a purely erotic relationship as an intellectual abyss separates them. Before long, he needs to possess her and cannot resist a sharp descent into violent jealousy. Written by lament

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Romance | Drama

Certificate:

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Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

France | Portugal

Language:

French

Release Date:

16 December 1998 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

L'ennui See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$14,064, 10 October 1999

Gross USA:

$36,666
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Sophie: Abstinence is turning you sour; give it up.
Martin: I have.
Sophie: Really? Do I know her?
Martin: No, I met her in odd circumstances a few weeks ago.
Sophie: Really? You must be pleased.
Martin: You're quite wrong, I don't like her at all. She's totally uninteresting. I'm trying to get rid of her.
Sophie: Why? Is she ugly?
Martin: Not particularly.
Sophie: Is she stupid then?
Martin: No. Not at all. She never says anything stupid. It's complicated. She bores me. I have no contact with her. Or rather only physical contact.
[...]
See more »

Connections

Version of The Empty Canvas (1963) See more »

Soundtracks

Melao de Cana
Performed by Celia Cruz with La Sonora Matancera
Written by Hippolita Pedroso
Edition Originale EDITORA MUSICAL DE CUbA
Sous éditions J. GARZON
© DECLIC
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Existentialism in full view
14 April 2007 | by groggoSee all my reviews

When you adapt a work by Alberto Moravia to the screen, you know that human detachment, alienation or themes thereof are going to dominate.

That's what happens in 'L'Ennui' -- characters driven by excess, searching for the unsearchable or the unreachable. The ambiguity of the word 'ennui' fits very well: in English translation, the word can mean not only boredom but also human emptiness. This is what I believe director Cedric Kahn was aiming for, and he's certainly on target.

This is a descent into an obsessive abyss by Martin, played by Charles Berling with such frenetic neuroticism that he all but leaps off the screen. He lives and suffers through the lives of others. He meets Cecilia, a 17-year-old artist's model, stunningly portrayed by Sophie Guilleman. Martin asks questions about the artist, who died shortly after an obsessive love affair with Sophie. Despite his extensive intellectual training in philosophy (a Moravia-Kahn 'in-joke' here), Martin cannot fathom the emotional emptiness of Cecilia, who is a character straight out of, well, the existential literature of Moravia and Camus (Cecilia reminded me of the latter's Mersault in 'L'Etranger,' a classic study of human detachment).

Martin asks Cecelia endless questions about emotional matters, but she cannot answer them. She only understands transient forms of pleasure (never 'happiness'), and her laissez-faire attitude drives Martin into increasing levels of madness. He thinks he loves her, but he has no understanding of love at all, and cannot find the centre of Cecilia's amiable indifference. He screams about 'possessing' her, as if she were a commodity. She neither loves nor hates him; she is simply neutral, which Martin cannot grasp.

This is a brilliant work on a difficult subject, although it's perhaps about 20 minutes too long. Slowly and meticulously, Kahn unpeels the layers of the endless human dilemma called love.

Once again, the French have delivered a film that just wouldn't see the light of day in Hollywood. I can hear the producers in LaLaLand now: who wants to pay for a film that focuses on a basic philosophical problem: the nature of human existence? Fortunately, we can still see these kinds of films, but they'll never come from Hollywood.


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