Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

My Night with Maud (1969)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

My Night with Maud (1969, Fr.) (aka Ma Nuit Chez Maud, or My Night at Maud's)

In Eric Rohmer's 3rd film of his 'Six Moral Tales' - an intelligent, dialogue-rich and dramatic romantic comedy about life's chances and choices:

  • the opening sequence of unnamed main character Jean-Louis ("J-L") (Jean-Louis Trintignant), a 34 year-old smug, conflicted and uptight Catholic civil engineer working for Michelin, who attended Christmas Eve Mass at a cathedral in Clermont-Ferrand; during the service, he spotted a beautiful 22 year-old blonde girl Francoise (Marie-Christine Barrault), a lab assistant; in voice-over, he obsessively vowed to settle down and marry her (without really knowing her) as his ideal woman: "I suddenly knew, without a doubt, that Francoise would be my wife"; afterwards, in his car, he trailed after the elusive female on her moped, but lost sight of her behind a slow-moving vehicle
  • the discussion between the self-deceiving and hypocritical J-L and his old Marxist high-school friend Vidal (Antoine Vitez), a university philosophy teacher; one of their discussion subjects was Pascal's wager (playing the odds regarding God's existence because it was wiser to believe - since if you're right, you go to heaven, but if you're wrong, you lose nothing)
  • the dinner conversation between J-L, Vidal and his free-thinking, wise and skeptical brunette friend - a beautiful, vivacious divorcee single mother and pediatrician named Maud (Françoise Fabian) - a secular and modern female
  • the circumstances (a heavy snowfall) that forced J-L to stay over at Maud's place when she asked for "bedside company"; and the flirtatious sequence in Maud's bedroom where she temptingly modeled a skimpy nightshirt to "show off" her legs, as she admitted: "My only means of seduction"; J-L responded: "Not the only means, but the best!"
  • Maud's statement that J-L had a complicated and conflicted nature: "What troubles me the most about you is you're side-stepping. You don't face your responsibilities. You're ashamed of being a Christian. And ashamed of being a Don Juan!"
The Lengthy Bed Scene Conversation
Between J-L and Maud
  • the lengthy scene of Maud and J-L's self-reflective, challenging conversation about sex and morality with him, including Maud's baring of her soul about how she was unlucky in love - she sadly remembered and spoke about her marriage, her own dead lover (killed in an icy car crash), and her former husband's mistress: "You really want to hear my life story? I had a lover and my husband, a mistress. She was a little like you: very moral, Catholic. Not a hypocrite, a sincere believer. But I hated her so much. She was crazy about him. He's a guy that drives girls crazy. I was crazy myself. I made him break with her. That was my one good deed. She probably wouldn't have married him"
  • the revelation that Maud discarded her nightshirt and slept in the nude ("I always sleep naked - nightclothes get so twisted around"); he reluctantly joined her in the bed when she urged him to forsake an uncomfortable armchair: "Don't be childish. Come lie next to me. On the blankets. Or under - if I'm not too ugly ....You'll have a cramp. Are you scared? Of yourself? Of me? I swear I won't touch you. I thought you had self-control"; he laid next to her on top of a thick, white-furred coverlet (although he was clothed), because it was too cold and awkward to sleep in a nearby armchair, and then tried to cover himself with the blanket
  • early the next morning, Maud's clumsy attempt at seduction and request for sex from J-L, but he signaled that he wanted to remain chaste; she jumped naked from bed and dismissed him after he resisted her: "I like people who know what they want"; soon after, he left her apartment
  • later, the circumstances that forced J-L to spend a chaste, boring, and uninteresting night at Francoise's place - a major contrast to his night with Maud
  • the outdoor sequence of Francoise's halting confession to J-L that she had very recently been engaged in an affair with a married man: ("I have a lover...until recently...I loved him. Madly. I could say I've forgotten him but you can't forget someone you've loved. We parted just before I met you...It's all over. We'll never see each other again"); she was forgiven by J-L when he admitted he also had affairs: ("Listen, Francoise. We can wait as long as you want. You're wrong if you think it changes anything for me. I have no right. Actually, I'm happy. It's true. I felt uneasy before. Some of my affairs lasted a very long time. Now we're even....I'll make a confession: The morning we meet, I'd just left a girl. I'd slept with her"); they mutually agreed to never discuss their past sexual histories again
Meeting Up With Maud Five Years Later
Francoise with Husband J-L and Child
  • the epilogue or closing scene five years later: a chance meeting at the beach between J-L (now with wife Francoise and toddler son) and Maud, when it was revealed - in an extraordinary and ironic coincidence - that she knew of Francoise ("We know each other - by sight"); Maud further recalled J-L's earlier conversations with her about his future ideal fiancee (blonde and Catholic); Maud told J-L that she had remarried, but it wasn't going too well ("I never have any luck with men"); as he joined up with Francoise already on the beach, J-L exclaimed: "I didn't know you knew each other. When she left Clermont, I hardly knew you. We had just met...You know, when I met you, I'd just left her, but..." (J-L's voice over: "I was to say: 'Nothing happened' - I saw that her embarrassment didn't come from what she'd learned about me, but from what she guessed I'd just learned about her. It suddenly hit me. Instead, I said...") "...That was my last fling. It's odd that we bumped into her" - he had thoughtfully saved his wife embarrassment, by telling her that Maud was the last affair he had in his past; Francoise was reassured and again stated: "I find it rather funny. Anyway, all that was so long ago. We said we'd never talk about it"; the film ended with the family happily running toward the water for a swim

Cathedral Scene: "J-L" and Francoise

J-L's Friend Vidal with Maud

J-L's Sleep-Over with Sexy Maud

J-L's Contrasting, Boring Night With Francoise

Francoise's Confession to J-L of An Affair With a Married Man


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