Murmur of the Heart

"Excellent"

Murmur of the Heart Review


When the French come of age, they really come of age. That is, I don't recall any of the kids in Stand By Me having sex with his mother.

Hope that doesn't ruin anything for you,but you ought to be aware what you're getting into with Louis Malle's seminal work, Murmur of the Heart, often described as a "lighthearted" film and Malle's best work, particularly of the movies he made in his homeland of France.

Much like Atlantic City, probably Malle's best known work, Murmur has no real inciting incident to begin the tale. Nor does anything really happen during the film. We get the feeling that we're watching a real character -- in this case, the15-year-old Laurent (Benoît Ferreux) -- as he faces daily life. In the case of Laurent, that's a life obsessed with jazz music and, of course, girls. Thanks to his two older, horribly behaved brothers, Laurent is soon obsessed with sex. They even cart him off to a prostitute, only to bust in and pull him off of her in mid-copulation.

So yeah, not a film to watch with the grandparents. Though for most of its running time, Murmur is so quaint that you could easily mistake it for a PG-rated romp. (When will Laurent go to summer camp?)

In fact, Laurent doesn't go to camp but he does go on holiday with mom after he's diagnosed with a heart murmur. The treatment is bed rest and ice packs on the chest, and soon he's off in the countryside at a gorgeous summer resort full of similarly rich kids and their parents. Here, Laurent continues to woo the girls (more his own age, for once), before ultimately ending up with mom. And though you might think that leads to a slam-bang conclusion, it doesn't. In Malle style, life goes on. In fact, the duo resolves not to talk about it. The film ends as the family is reunited for breakfast, all smiles.

There's a lot of character depth in Murmur that a plot description doesn't really do justice to, and Laurent has all the trappings of smoldering performance in Ferreux's first screen role. (Too bad then that he never really did much career wise, languishing in small roles ever since.) Malle takes this simple story and pumps it full of depth -- the twin horrors and joys of being a kid, the hypocrisy of the rich, the politics of marriage, all filtered through the eye of French disillusionment in the 1970s. Even the title is full of meanings. It doesn't just refer to Laurent's malady, but also to his emotional development, as his heart is murmuring its way into a discovery of what love is.

Or maybe not. In the end we get the feeling things are going to turn out okay for Laurent, but he's probably on the same path as his callow brothers. That makes Murmur more bittersweet than it probably ought to be, a feel good movie where the good feelings are tinged with more than a bit of nausea.

Recommended.

Now part of a four-disc Criterion set of three Malle films, including Au Revoir, Les Enfants and Lacombe, Lucien, plus a fourth disc of extras. Bonus materials range from interviews with Malle actors, interviews with Malle himself, behind the scenes footage, and more, including The Immigrant, the 1917 Chaplin short film that appeared in Les Enfants.



Murmur of the Heart

Facts and Figures

Run time: 118 mins

In Theaters: Sunday 17th October 1971

Distributed by: Palomar Pictures International

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Fresh: 9 Rotten: 1

IMDB: 7.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Claude Nedjar

Starring: as Clara Chevalier, Benoît Ferreux as Laurent Chevalier, Daniel Gélin as Charles Chevalier, as Father Henri

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.