After her divorce, Louise moved in with her mother. When her mother dies, Louise, now forty years old, leaves for Annecy, burning all her bridges behind her. In Annecy, she meets an unemployed Italian in his twenties, who is half-heartedly begging. She gives him some money. He follows her and she ends up letting him stay with her. Things start spiralling out of control. No matter what Louise says and does, Luigi brings some warmth into her life, a notion of love which she so badly needs. Soon, their relationship has everyone's tongues wagging and Louise's teacher colleagues point the finger at her. Luigi has it cosy: he's fed, housed and clothed. He vaguely looks for work, does a bit of stealing, meets women his own age, wants a motorbike. After a particular encounter with a young woman and the ensuing scandal Louise creates, Luigi disappears. Louise finds herself alone, tries to commit suicide, and ends up in her usual state of solitude.
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Jean-Louis Curtis has found a good subject and Jean-Loup Dabadie has made a fine adaptation of it. But it is a 'false' kind of good subject. Philiippe de Broca - the director, let us not forget, of subtle and bittersweet films such as Five Day Lover and King of Hearts - chose this story because it suits his tone and taste. But, today, even if the story is possible and real, it is too difficult to make us believe in this encounter. And no matter the admiration we feel for Jeanne Moreau, this great actress kills any emotion. Her reactions are planned - and therefore predictable - down to a fraction of an inch. She is fascinating, but removes all the film's emotion. It's impossible to believe in her suicide attempt: wonderfully performed, it's true, but "performed". Hence the film loses its soul and credibility. A shame.
Guy Allombert, "La Saison Cinématographique 1972".