peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2022 07 26 MurmurOfTheHeart

Murmur of the Heart (1971)

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A Louis Malle jag from Atlantic City. It's Springtime 1954 in Dijon (so says the title card) with some young blokes collecting for the soldiers at Điện Biên Phủ. As this film was made about 17 years later, one might think that the French have had time to process that disaster and watch America slide into the quagmire. Sure enough some later commentary alludes to that but all the politics and much else is more gesture than argument, certainly not commitment.

Otherwise there's the Tour de France on the radio, the new novelty of the TV, and a coming-of-age in the style of Martin Amis for an almost-15 year old circumspect, precocious boy. He's helped along by his wastrel older brothers and not particularly impeded by his father, a gynaecologist, perhaps due to the jazz soundtrack of the era. He's slavered over by all the ladies, so the audience is not surprised when the Oedipal subtext comes to the fore. Much is made of his mother being a low-born Italian refugee who does not discriminate in her modes of knowing.

Roger Ebert: four stars at the time. Roger Greenspun was less impressed. Malle got an Oscar nom for the script.