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.



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

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

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.