English Title: A Man and a Woman
Original Title: Un homme et une femme
Genre: Drama, Romance
Director: Claude Lelouch
Writer: Pierre Uytterhoeven
Music: Francis Lai
Cinematography: Claude Lelouch
Claude Lelouch’s Palme d’or winner (an honour shared with Pietro Germi’s THE BIRDS, THE BEES AND THE ITALIANS 1966), which is also a two-times Oscar winner (BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM and BEST ORIGINAL SCRIPT, with two other notable nominations, BEST DIRECTOR and BEST LEADING ACTRESS).
Opening with a mother telling Little Red Riding Hood to her kiddie daughter, and a father teaches his baby boy driving on the street, the movie’s diegesis is a plain romance between a man and a woman, Jean-Louis Duroc (Trintignant) and Anne Gauthier (Aimée). They meet at the boarding school of their children in Deauville, although both claiming to be married, we don’t see their respective spouses with them. Anne carpools with Jean-Louis to head back to Paris, en route, Anne recollects fond memory of her husband Pierre (Barouh), a movie stuntman whom later she reveal has died in an accident. During their next scheduled trip to Deauville, Jean-Louis confesses that he is a racer who survived a tragic accident which unfortunately prompted his wife’s suicide. So there is nothing to hold back their mutual attraction, a widow and a widower, with two young kids, a boy and a girl, it is a perfect second chance.
A MAN AND A WOMAN is an exemplar of the atmosphere cinema, unbelievably captures the zeitgeist of its time, Lelouch’s incalculable interchange of its palette, between colour, black-and-white and sepia tone, is a godsend to perk up the intimacy of the close-ups and the mundanity of an unforced narrative arc. Francis Lai’s iconic soundtrack lead by its enduring titular theme song (performed by Barouh and Nicole Croisille) is trance-inducing and incredibly attune to the pulse of the romance and its aftermath. The picture is also a fruit of a new generation of Gallo-trendsetters (Lelouch and Lai, are both under 30, and the crew is mostly youngsters), structurally unbridled, visually discursive, sonically enchanting, top-lined with a pair of uncontrived charmers, Trintignant and Aimée, it is a film of nigh perfection, which seems rather a windfall gauged through Lelouch’s entire career path.
Incisively, Lelouch’s dichotomous rumination on the difference of gender politics hits the bull’s eye, with regard to memories, woman is more prone to linger in the limbo of sentiments whereas man is inevitably more clinging to his carnal impulse (Jean-Louis already has a lover before he meets Anne). A bona-fide heart-stealer is the soul-touching shots of an old man with his dog on the beach side, that is how nostalgia is wondrously evoked in a movie, such a knockout picture, the more you think about it, the more affection will germinate afterwards.