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Montpellier: December 1976. At the funeral of Bertrand Morane, Genevieve (Fossey) observes the other mourners, all women once involved with him. The following is told in flashback.
Morane (Denner), a man in early middle-age, works in a laboratory testing the aerodynamics of aircraft, and pursues women in a compulsive, but casual manner without showing any signs of a capacity for commitment. He goes to extraordinary lengths to locate a woman he had seen, only to discover she was briefly visiting France and lives in Montreal. Bertrand becomes friendly with Hélène (Fontanel), who runs a lingerie shop, but she confesses to being attracted to younger men; she is forty-one, and does not become involved with men older than thirty. He has an affair with Delphine (Borgeaud), the wife of a doctor, who gains arousal from the threat of discovery, but she is imprisoned for the attempted murder of her husband. After a number of very casual encounters, Bertrand contracts gonorrhea, discovered at a very early stage, but is unable to recollect the names of the six women he has slept with in the previous twelve days.
Eventually, he begins his autobiography only for his typist to find the content too much to continue. Completed, it is submitted to the four leading publishers in Paris. A member of the editorial staff at one of them, Genevieve, stands up for the work against the objections of her (male) colleagues. Rejecting his title for the book, she suggests The Man Who Loved Women, which he finds ideal. Bertrand meets Véra (Caron), a significant old flame, while the book is at the proof stage, and insists on withdrawing the book from publication because he had neglected to mention her. Genevieve though persuades him to make Véra the subject of his second book; he needs to like himself she says. By now, Genevieve has fallen in love with him, in spite of recognizing his personality flaws, but he has a traffic accident caused by rushing to meet her. Admitted to the hospital and forbidden to move, he sees nurses in his doorway and, attracted by their legs, accidentally severs his drip and dies.
At the funeral, Genevieve speculates on the other women's relationship with Bertrand, she does not speak to them, and reflects that it is only herself who knows the ending.
Source : Wikipedia
At the time of the film's release, Vincent Canby called it a "supremely humane, sophisticated comedy that is as much fun to watch for the variations Mr. Truffaut works on classic man-woman routines as for the routines themselves" and noted "I suppose there's always been a little of the late Ernst Lubitsch in all Truffaut comedies, ...but there is more than I've ever seen before in The Man Who Loved Women." Canby said "Denner is very, very funny as Bertrand, a fellow who has the same single-minded purpose as the rat exterminator he played in Such a Gorgeous Kid Like Me, as well as the delicacy of touch of Antoine Doinel on his best behavior" and called the sequence featuring Leslie Caron the film's "most marvelous, most surprising"; her scene of four or five minutes is "so remarkably well played and written that an entire love affair, from the beginning to the middle and the end, is movingly evoked through what is really just exposition."
For Ronald Bergan and Robyn Karney in the Bloomsbury Foreign Film Guide, "the film obstinately refuses to cast light on its characters, making it no more than a superficial and sporadically entertaining exercise." Geoff Andrew in the Time Out Film Guide describes the film as "[c]harmless...[it] irritates by its over-wrought sense of literary-style paradox, [and] by its insistence on eccentricity as its source of humour". Melissa E. Biggs though, in "French Films 1945-1993", describes it as "an extraordinary film ... made at just the right moment in time, when sexual obsession could still be ironic and celebrated and not held up to scorn by political correctness and feminist righteousness".
The film was entered into the 27th Berlin International Film Festival.
Source : Wikipedia
Point of view
For François Truffaut, the fundamental problem with humanity is maturity, the process of letting go of the sense of wonder and awe that fills childhood in favor of the stark rationality of adulthood. Though it is in some ways a lesser known Truffaut work, The Man Who Loved Women is the perfect representation of Truffaut’s argument against maturity, a comedy that has far more insight into human interaction than most dramas.
Frequent Truffaut collaborator Charles Denner (The Bride Wore Black) returns here as Bertrand Morane, an unapologetic womanizer who begins the film as a corpse. Lowered into the ground by the women he has scorned, lusted after, ogled and even occasionally loved, Morane is introduced by Geneviève (Brigitte Fossey), Morane’s editor and later lover. Observing from the sidelines, Geneviève is quick to indicate that Morane’s funeral is exactly how he would have wanted it to be, a celebration not of his life but of the beauties he sampled through the years.
The film’s beginning is in some ways a false set-up, a framing device that leads the viewer to assume a ribald sex comedy is on the way, when in fact we’re about to be treated to a morose, complicated picture that has far more in common with Annie Hall than one might imagine. Shifting from the perspective of Geneviève to Bertrand in his prime, the immediate realization is that Bertrand is not your normal ladies’ man. Nowhere near as neurotic as Alvy Singer, Bertrand is nevertheless filled with a kind of sadness. Namely, the despair of knowing that there is no way he will ever possibly be able to experience all the beautiful women the world or even France alone has to offer.
Where Alvy’s central issue is his difficulty in taking pleasure from life, Bertrand has the problem of taking too much pleasure from life. Both the characters doom themselves through their hang-ups, but Alvy’s is far likelier to be seen as an “adult” issue while Bertrand’s is the epitome of childishness. Even Bertrand’s physical fascinations, specifically women’s legs, are derived from Freudian issues with his mother, who Truffaut hints was likely a prostitute. Bertrand’s two most important memories of his childhood involve his mother walking; the first is the recollection of his mother walking past him in a pleated skirt, ignoring him, which instills Bertrand’s obsession with legs while the second, which involves his mother pacing around him half-naked, still ignoring him, while he’s forced to sit in a chair reading, instills in Bertrand his obsession with reading.
The physicality of the memories and Bertrand’s focus on the salacious details of his mother’s legs, skirt and state of undress is important in a symbolic sense, but what’s even more notable is Bertrand’s fixation on the way his mother neglected him, an action he views not as a deficit but as a hardening tool that ensured his success in life. For Bertrand, success comes in the form of casual dalliances with an unending parade of women, most of whom he similarly neglects – an early sight gag in the film even finds him placing a letter begging him to contact a lover he has been ignoring into a drawer filled with similar correspondences. Bertrand’s disinterest doesn’t come from disappointment, as his mother’s did with him, but from his child-like need to have what he doesn’t already possess.
Source : spectrumculture.com