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The Mother and the Whore (1973)

La maman et la putain (original title)
The chauvinist Alexandre balances relationships with several women, including the maternal Marie and the sexually liberated Veronika, in the post-1968 intellectual scene of Paris.

Director:

Jean Eustache

Writer:

Jean Eustache (scenario and dialogue)
Reviews
3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Jean-Pierre Léaud ... Alexandre
Bernadette Lafont ... Marie / Alexandre's girlfriend
Françoise Lebrun ... Veronika / Alexandre's girlfriend
Isabelle Weingarten Isabelle Weingarten ... Gilberte / Alexandre's ex-girlfriend
Jacques Renard Jacques Renard ... Alexandre's Friend
Jean-Noël Picq Jean-Noël Picq ... Offenbach's Fan
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Storyline

In Paris, Alexandre, an unemployed young man with memories of the May 1968 events in France, attempts to persuade his former love, Gilberte, to marry him. Gilberte opts to instead marry another man. Alexandre is involved with a live-in girlfriend called Marie, and is interested in films such as The Working Class Goes to Heaven. One day, after an unsuccessful reconciliation with Gilberte at the highly popular Les Deux Magots café, he meets Veronika, a Polish French twenty-something nurse. In the midst of the sexual revolution, Veronika is highly promiscuous, and begins to make advances on Alexandre. During the summer of 1972, Alexandre and Marie are nude in bed in their apartment when Veronika visits. Marie lets her in and Veronika insults both of them, but acknowledges she is not pure herself. The three begin a ménage à trois and sleep in the same bed, with Veronika assuring Alexandre she and Marie both love him, and telling him to be more happy with his situation and life. Although ...

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

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Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jean Eustache was adamant about the actors following the script without changing a word. Because of this, Jean-Pierre Léaud spent three months memorizing his lines before the start of filming. See more »

Goofs

While reading the book of Gestapo at his friend's home, Alexandre is holding a cigarette in his right hand in the close-up. In the next shot he is only holding the book. See more »

Quotes

Alexandre's Friend: Want a drink?
Alexandre: What a question!
See more »

Connections

References Spirits of the Dead (1968) See more »

Soundtracks

Ich weiß, es wird einmal ein Wunder gescheh'n
Written by Bruno Balz, Michael Jary and Ralph Benatzky
Performed by Zarah Leander
See more »

User Reviews

 
one of the greatest films ever made
20 September 2003 | by yarnsSee all my reviews

It is not an easy film to watch - it is over three and a half hours long and it is composed entirely of conversations. Yet it is so incredibly compelling and ruthlessly observational of the human character, that it is, in my humble opinion, one of the very greatest films of all time.

The film is depressing, cynical and cruel. (If you want something uplifting, see Jacques Rivette's fantastic Céline and Julie Go Boating, which was made around the same time). It shows the idealism of the late 1960s to be nothing different from the society that it was trying to change.

It involves a supposedly liberated ménage-à-trois between Alexandre (played by Jean-Pierre Leaud), Marie (Bernadette Lafont) and Veronika (Francoise Lebrun). Yet Alexandre is shown to be as chauvinistic and jealous as any other man. The women are exposed as being willingly subservient and defining their femininity through the male gaze.

The film is an extremely icy end to the highly revolutionary French New Wave. This movement was one of the most significant movements in film history and had a profound effect on cinema as we know it. Jean-Pierre Leaud was one of the key actors of the New Wave, having starred (among other films) in the influential Les Quatres Cent Coups (1959) by Francois Truffaut as a rebellious teenager. Director Jean Eustache is not as well known as other directors from the New Wave, but he should be.

There is no improvisation (unlike in John Cassavetes's similar films made in the US) and the dialogue comes from real-life conversations. The film is resonant with Eustache's personal experiences. For example, Francoise Lebrun was a former lover of Eustache. Eustache himself committed suicide in 1981 and the real-life person that the character Marie was based on, did too. The anger and bitterness all culminate in a harrowing monologue by Veronika delivered directly to the audience, breaking down the coldly objective nature of the rest of the film. This mesmerising, personal, and honest filmic statement remains one of the most revealing films of human nature around.


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Details

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

17 May 1973 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

The Mother and the Whore See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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