Murmur of the Heart / Le souffle au coeur (1971) [The Criterion Collection #328] [ReUp]

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Murmur of the Heart / Le souffle au coeur (1971) [The Criterion Collection #328] [ReUp]

Murmur of the Heart (1971) [The Criterion Collection #328]
DVD9 | VIDEO_TS | NTSC 16:9 | Cover + Booklet | 01:58:12 | 7,02 Gb
Audio: French 1.0 @ 192 Kbps | Subtitles: English
Genre: Drama

Director: Louis Malle
Stars: Lea Massari, Benoît Ferreux, Daniel Gélin

Louis Malle’s critically acclaimed Murmur of the Heart gracefully combines elements of comedy, drama, and autobiography in a candid portrait of a precocious adolescent boy’s sexual maturation. Both shocking and deeply poignant, this is one of the finest coming-of-age films ever made.


Writer/director Louis Malle once said, “It is only when memory is filtered through imagination that the films we make will have real depth.”

Murmur of the Heart / Le souffle au coeur (1971) [The Criterion Collection #328] [ReUp]

With the possible exception of 1987’s Au revoir les enfants, Murmur of the Heart, Malle's 1971 coming-of-age comedy/drama, is the best example of this cinematic philosophy. Although the film is best remembered for its deft treatment of a topic as potentially repulsive as incest, in fact it should be remembered for its keen ability to render the fumbling antics of early adolescent boyhood with an acute eye and a tender touch. Malle based much of the film on his own experiences growing up and added the fictional incest element and a few others to make a well-crafted film that has every reason to be shocking, but somehow never is.

Murmur of the Heart / Le souffle au coeur (1971) [The Criterion Collection #328] [ReUp]

The story takes place in Dijon, France in 1954 and involves Laurent Chevalier (Benoît Ferreux), a gangly, precocious, intellectual 15-year-old who is fighting to make sense of himself and the world around him. His journey is both helped and hindered by those around him, especially his influential, but self-possessed and obnoxious older brothers, Thomas (Fabien Ferreux) and Marc (Marc Winocourt). They are the kind of siblings who pay for Laurent to lose his virginity to a prostitute, and then drunkenly interrupt the encounter before it’s finished, thus humiliating Laurent and ruining any possibility of good memories.

Murmur of the Heart / Le souffle au coeur (1971) [The Criterion Collection #328] [ReUp]

Laurent’s easy-going, upper-class life is upended when it is discovered that he has a heart murmur. Because Laurent is the member of a rich, bourgeois family, headed by his emotionally distant father (Daniel Gélin) who is a successful gynecologist, Laurent is sent to live at an expensive health spa to recuperate. He stays there with his mother, Clara (Léa Massari), who is hardly a model mother figure. She is something of a free spirit, a roaming, saucy, unapologetically sensual woman who admits her lack of modesty while undressing in front of her son. She more or less openly carries on an extramarital affair, and flirts with the boys at the spa.

Murmur of the Heart / Le souffle au coeur (1971) [The Criterion Collection #328] [ReUp]

While the first half of Murmur of the Heart is given to documenting Laurent’s various boyhood escapades, the second hour details his growing relationship with Clara. There is an uncertain aspect to their mother/son dealings, especially when they kiss or hug or wrestle, and this eventually climaxes with the controversial moment of incest, which is filmed with what can only be described under the circumstances as the utmost discretion and taste. Everything about the film has been so believable and well-paced up to that point that you simply accept the incest as a logical extension of their jealous, complex relationship.

Murmur of the Heart / Le souffle au coeur (1971) [The Criterion Collection #328] [ReUp]

Malle drew much from his own life to paint this portrait of awkward sex and boyish wandering. Unlike most of his French New Wave contemporaries, Malle grew up in the bourgeois lifestyle and was able to attend an expensive film school. His knowledge of the lifestyle he portrays is obvious in the small details. He knows the adolescent allure of shoplifting, smoking, drinking, French kissing, masturbation, pulling pranks, engaging in brotherly fights, and laughing at snobbish jokes. Even when Laurent and his brothers are at their worst, there is still a kind of lighthearted jocularity that keeps them from becoming unbearable.

Murmur of the Heart / Le souffle au coeur (1971) [The Criterion Collection #328] [ReUp]

Their characters are aided greatly by the wonderful performances, especially Benoît Ferreux as Laurent. He has the kind of fresh-faced, long-limbed appeal that is absolutely necessary for the role. His antics with his siblings (one of whom is played by his real-life brother, Fabien) are the core of the film because, if we can’t believe in them, the more far-reaching aspects of the story would feel completely implausible.

Murmur of the Heart / Le souffle au coeur (1971) [The Criterion Collection #328] [ReUp]

In the end, Malle’s characters are endearing despite their flaws simply because they are real. Malle doesn't whitewash them and make them what they are not. They are rich and spoiled and they make stupid decisions and try to grow up too fast. However, Malle’s simple understanding of their thoughts and emotions grounds the film, allowing the audience to join the fun without feeling ashamed or offended.
Murmur of the Heart / Le souffle au coeur (1971) [The Criterion Collection #328] [ReUp]

Special Features:
- New, restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised by cinematographer Ricardo Aronovich
- Original theatrical trailer
- A new essay by film critic Michael Sragow
- New and improved English subtitle translation

All Credits goes to Original uploader.

No More Mirrors, Please.



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