The Mother And The Whore

  • 1973
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

If any film signified that the French New Wave had come to an end, it was THE MOTHER AND THE WHORE, a grueling three-and-a-halfhour study that may be one of the more enlightening works the cinema has ever produced. Set against a background of Paris cafes and tiny one-room apartments, it traces the amorous adventures of Alexandre (Jean-Pierre Leaud), an...read more

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If any film signified that the French New Wave had come to an end, it was THE MOTHER AND THE WHORE, a grueling three-and-a-halfhour study that may be one of the more enlightening works the cinema has ever produced. Set against a background of Paris cafes and tiny one-room apartments, it

traces the amorous adventures of Alexandre (Jean-Pierre Leaud), an irresponsible young man who pretends to be a leftist intellectual. He is really little more than a victim of the postwar existentialist thought that paved the way for the materialistic attitudes of the early 1970s and a generation

filled with empty ideals. One morning, Alexandre feels an extraordinary need to marry. Leaving the small flat he shares with Marie (Bernadette Lafont), his lover and willing meal ticket, he sets out to pop the question to his old girl friend. Alexandre brings the girl to a cafe where he engages in

a long pseudo-intellectual monologue while asking for her hand. She flatly refuses, responding, "What novel are you being a character in?" (Alexandre characteristically perceives himself in such terms.) Later that same day, he passes by a cafe where he spots the vampirish looking Veronika

(Francoise Lebrun) staring at him. He gets her phone number and agrees to meet her later. After several failed attempts to meet her, the two eventually arrange to meet at a cafe. Veronika works as a nurse, a job that allows her enough money to pay for her dingy room, to buy pretty clothes, and to

keep herself numbed with alcohol. Other than this, the only thing that interests her is sex, and she has no qualms about sleeping with any passing stranger. Alexandre and Veronika start a shaky affair that consists mainly of meeting in cafes and long monologues on Alexandre's part. To Veronika, he

has become much more than her usual casual fling. She even calls him while he is spending the evening with Marie, then sleeps with both of them. Marie attempts suicide, and the tension created by the triangle continually mounts until a gruesome climax in which Veronika, who has seemed aloof and

unaffected to this point, delivers a tear-filled soliloquy revealing her self-perception as a sexual object. Alexandre follows her to her room and asks her to marry him. She accepts while vomiting into a bucket which he holds.

Prior to THE MOTHER AND THE WHORE, director Eustache had worked as an assistant for New Wave directors, most notably Jean-Luc Godard. (He even appeared briefly in WEEKEND). His first two solo efforts were medium-length features that were of some interest, but this picture proved he was a

perceptive filmmaker. However, Eustache's career was very short. After THE MOTHER AND THE WHORE won both the Grand Prix and the International Critics Award at Cannes, he made only one more feature before his suicide in 1980. THE MOTHER AND THE WHORE captures a sense of realism rare in any type of

film, bringing us deep beneath the surface of the characters' exteriors.

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  • Released: 1973
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: If any film signified that the French New Wave had come to an end, it was THE MOTHER AND THE WHORE, a grueling three-and-a-halfhour study that may be one of the more enlightening works the cinema has ever produced. Set against a background of Paris cafes a… (more)

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