Murmur of the Heart


Comedy / Drama

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 94%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 86%
IMDb Rating 7.7 10 8,893


Downloaded times
December 28, 2020



Michael Lonsdale as Father Henri
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.06 GB
French 2.0
23.976 fps
118 min
P/S N/A / N/A
1.97 GB
French 2.0
23.976 fps
118 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Quinoa1984 10 / 10 / 10

not as light as I totally expected, but with enough life and vibrancy to keep it from being dark either

I wonder what Freudians would think of the relationship between Laurent (Benoit Ferreux) and Clara Chevalier (Lea Massari), son and mother, who for half the film are basically on their own as the son gets treatment for a heart ailment. Maybe it's hard to think anything about this, or to put such an easy label as 'oedipal' on this whole psychological criss-cross. But what's hard to deny is how much liveliness is in possibly Louis Malle's best film (that I've seen yet at any rate). It's a tale of innocence lost, but then again in a family where it's not a high commodity anyway. Laurent is surrounded by older brothers who get him into parties with alcohol, and even to a brothel where he awkwardly loses his virginity. He also is a choirboy, does excellently in school, has an intellectual side that runs deep, and goes to confess his sins (from time to time) for the priest. But then there's something about his Mother, when he sees her get into a car he doesn't recognize or rides off with someone mysterious, that ignites his confused flame of first-hitting-puberty sexual jealousy. And it all leads up to Bastille day. Murmur of the Heart is not a picture really bent on anything with a solid plot, as it's more concerned with the kind of European 'character study' (not that there isn't a story there to look at it). I read Ebert's review and he mentioned that the picture is more about the mother than the son. I could see where that viewpoint comes from, but I have to think that it's more about both of them, and while I watched it (as opposed to now thinking about it once its ended) it seemed more concerned with the son and perpetually through his point of view. He doesn't totally understand why his mother feels the way she does, and why she runs off to her other man, torn between leaving her gynecologist husband for him. But Malle makes it seem torn between each side when Laurent is left at the hotel while Clara is away for two days. His confusion leads him into a kind of disarray that's been hinted at before, and its made all the more clear in the tension- very underneath their games and witty remarks- that builds up. But even with such an idea for the film, it is never really ugly or trashy. If anything, Malle does the best thing possible by making such a taboo subject realistic around the situation of family and the period. It's really wonderful seeing how Malle directs the smaller scenes, the bits that a director usually wouldn't bother with for emotional sake, or the little bits of dialog that do go on in the real world that don't necessarily have to do much with the rest of the story (one of those is when Laurent is getting washed down with a hose at the medical clinic, and the woman washing him goes on a long tangent of talk, not conversationally, just to hear herself talk). It could be tricky dealing with such mundane aspects of life such as brothers hanging out and goofing off, but there's layers of masculinity that get thrown in the mix (what are we to make of when the boys measure 'themselves' with a ruler, much to the angry housekeeper's dismay, or when Laurent tries out her mothers make-up I wondered). All the while Malle bases these characters in an entirely plausible environment and with a cast that works very well. Massari is almost TOO alluring a woman to be anyone's mother, least of which the headstrong and vulnerable Laurent, but this works to show what her frame of mind must be too, as she gets as much attention (in a different way of course) as Laurent does from the teenage girls. The actor playing Laurent is a first-timer here ala Leaud in 400 Blows, but I even got a Bresson feeling from him, of there being a lot of emotions buried underneath his usually calm and poised expression, the kind that can be felt even with just the slightest hints. He's perfect for the kind of kid who's still a bit much in his own desires and wants to see what may happen from all of this in the long term. But the psychological implications are left even more to chance by the ending, which is one of the best moments Malle has ever directed as the family all laughs together. Not to forget to mention another big plus, the film is filled with one of the best jazz soundtracks ever put together (including Parker, Bechet, Gillespie among others), and an exquisite use of period and very tasteful way about the more 'graphic' parts of the film. Murmur of the Heart shows in tragic-comic detail the sophistication and lewd sides of the French, and draws a lot to ponder about a boy's crossover in that rotten period of 14-15 years old and of a woman who has the same mixture of unstable emotions and child-like ideals of her own blood that pull the two into what happens. In totally unconventional terms, it's 'magnifique'. A+

Reviewed by epat 9 / 10 / 10

Sophisticated naughtiness.

This is one of my all-time favorite films. Young Laurent Chevalier, his mother & his roguish elder brothers break every taboo known to small-town 1950s Dijon: underage drinking, underage sex, blasphemy, incest, petty theft, adultery, art forgery, whoremongering, drunk driving... What more can you ask? Malle treats their escapades with such lighthearted sympathy & wit you can't help liking them. Before I first saw Soufflé au Coeur, I read a blurb for it in the monthly listings of my local repertory cinema that ran something like this (I quote from memory): "This film does a lot to restore the French to their former reputation for sophisticated naughtiness." I can't sum it up any better than that.

Reviewed by movedout 9 / 10 / 10

Malle's finest....

It's high comedy. It's French bourgeois lifestyle. Louis Malle's delicate style of working with taboo subject matter reached a personal plateau with a dysfunctional household in "Murmur of the Heart", an early reach back into his own garden of memories and familial idiosyncrasies that he has stringently plucked from over the years. He approaches it with an innocent intent, cheeky, but still innocent nonetheless. Through the nostalgic and mean-spirited jibes at the domestic help, clergy and stiff-lipped crust of high society, it commences on a journey of an adolescent male, Laurent Chevalier (Benoit Ferreux) in Dijon, France circa 1954. He longs to break free to that stage of enlightened adulthood that seems just within reach but yet so very far. But within its pith, it's the very antithesis of melodrama. Taking on its inviolable subject matter's horns with both hands, it wrangles it to the ground while giving us something to think about. It's definitely not about exorcising ghosts of the past but to let them regale us with stories of unforgettable youth. After 35 years, "Murmur of the Heart" still rings truer and closer to home than most contemporary comedies (and even dramas) revolving around the "coming of age" and "sexual awakening" in a young teen. It's also more daring and liberal in its construction of key family members being part of that very natural formation of sexual DNA and identity. They discuss philosophy. They discuss suicide. They discuss "The Story of O". Laurent and his 2 older brothers consort in disrespectfully petty behaviour contrary to what their upbringing holds sacred. Laurent's a top student, an intellectual that sees the world around him as a playground. It's a smalltime superiority complex as he defines his sensitive sensibilities with discernment beyond his years and a haughty disregard for divergent thoughts with a self-important air. Revolving primarily about Laurent and his mother, Clara ("L' avventura's" Lea Massari), it's a refreshing look at a parental relationship based around adoration and fondness (coming under constant mocking by his brothers) than the contemporaneous and contemptuous notion of disdain and rebelliousness surrounding the authority figures and generational gaps. It underlines the idiom of a mother being her son's first love. In its essence, it encapsulates many complicated mother-child relationships including the emotional Oedipal issues that do crop up. And through that, a lovely parallelism is wrought with its interpretation of a woman who wants to be a girl and a boy who wants to be a man. Conforming to an almost sitcom style, its self-dependent, autonomous scenes and situations just about start to border on farcical proportions. Its characters place sex and carnality high up on a pedestal, while Malle condescendingly films it as something so pedestrian and run-of-the-mill, not worth the hype and excitement over it anyway. He makes the patient, inevitable buildup to a key sex scene that had caused controversy when it was first released, to seem more natural and accepting than he does the sexual encounters that actually do seem the norm in society.

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