French filmmaker Claude Lelouch continues to take critical heat for this 1966 international hit, which has been labeled "schmaltzy" and dismissed as overly stylized for its simple story line. While it certainly can't be mistaken for a masterpiece of the French New Wave (Lelouch was left in the dust that year by such wonders as Jean-Luc Godard's Masculin Feminin
), A Man and a Woman
has a jumpy impressionism that engages a viewer precisely because it cuts against conventional expectations of romance. Starring Anouk Aimée as a widowed "script girl" (working in film production) and Jean-Louis Trintignant as a racer who lost his wife to suicide, the film is really an objective sampling--almost a study--of moments between the time the two characters meet and the point at which they begin to read each other intuitively. Generous flashbacks fill in details on the pair's woeful, recent histories, while endless documentary-like glimpses of Aimée's and Trintignant's characters at work in their highly charged professions become a visual engine for the days passing between measured developments in love. Lelouch is more dryly humane than lush in his approach, though the film strains once in a while for a forced naturalism that can actually be more narcissistic than the most obvious romantic contrivance. Still, A Man and a Woman
--in the best sense--is also a movie in love with itself, with its own ability to evoke and conjure and construct dozens of different ways of tracking a relationship in progress. If Lelouch doesn't exactly push open the boundaries of cinema as several of his filmmaking peers did at the time, he certainly enjoys what he's doing. --Tom Keogh
From director CLAUDE LELOUCH (And Now...Ladies and Gentlemen) comes this 1966 classic, a tender, visually exciting film of revitalizing love: a race-car driver (JEAN-LOUIS TRINIGNANT) and a movie script girl (ANOUK AIMEE) share a romance filled with humor and truth, intertwined with the demands of career and parenthood. Winner of OscarsO for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Original Screenplay.