A Man and a Woman
Distributed by: United Artists
Released: July 1966
On the surface, A Man and a Woman is a film as simple as its title. You pretty much get what you are expecting: A romance, a touch of comedy, some suspense as to whether the man and woman will be a couple in the end—the details are what may make the movie interesting. It’s kind of like when you watch one of those trailers that pretty much tells you the whole story, and you wonder whether you should bother seeing the film—well, if there car crashes in the trailer and you are into car crashes, you probably don’t really care if the trailer gives too much away. If you see the title A Man and a Woman and think that’s for you, you’ll probably like it. If you just got dumped or divorced or hate romance films, you probably should forget about it.
|Jean-Louis and Anne|
So like any good romance, Jean-Louis and Anne meet almost accidentally, in their case because of their kids; they have a feeling-out period; they admit to themselves and to each other their attraction; they have a feeling-out period (which today would get them their PG-13 rating); then an obstacle pops up and you’ll just have to watch it find out whether the homme and the femme end up together.
|Jean-Louis (Trintignant) and Anne in Amour|
There is a realness to Jean-Louis and Anne's romance. Jean-Louis is frequently unsure about what to do and about what Anne wants him to do. One humorous scene has him talking to himself about how to react to her congratulatory note after he has won a race. Anne is the more unsure one about how she feels about things in relation to her past relationship. The question is whether she will let go of her dead stuntman in order to be happy with Jean-Louis. You can probably guess if she will. But that’s okay.
|No car crashes in this one|
The Culture: The feel of this film is a shift in times, from the more conservative 1950’s into the more sexually permissive 60’s. The outdoor scenes are in color and the interiors are shot in black-and-white, adding to the sense of transition. Men wear suits on dates and both feel free to smoke while dining at a restaurant with their kids. It’s sort of a cross between Mad Men and Flight of the Concords' “Foux du Fafa.”
Agenda danger: This one is as apolitical as it gets—a nice escape.
Best Picture that year: A Man for All Seasons
Rating: A pleasant enough romance. Both l’homme and la femme are likeable enough, and of course, the natural impulse is to hope they get together to become un couple. Again, a mere reading of the title will tell you whether you’ll like it or not. I prefer more complicated stories generally, but somehow knowing there probably wouldn’t be too many surprises didn’t take away from the romance for me. And if you are into car crashes, you just might be in luck.