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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.66:1
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • French: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
  • German: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
  • Italian: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
  Subtitles
    French, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Polish, English - Hearing Impaired, Danish, German - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer

The Man Who Loved Women

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 114 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

What first struck me as simply a film exploiting the female form slowly grew on me as a film before its time in both method and execution. Slow going for the most part, it does pick up around the middle for quite some time, but then leaves us bereft and sluggish again and looking at our watches.

Our film opens with an unknown woman discussing a man being buried. We soon learn the man in question is our man of the film title and in flashback and using a book he wrote before he dies, we are told his tale Ė the tale of The Man Who Loved Women. Bertrand is an obvious obsessive who will pursue a particular woman until he beds her, before dropping her out of his life in as swift a manner as she arrived. Questioning his own beliefs and morals, he sits down and begins cataloguing his life as a womaniser in book form.

"Iím not a lady-killer. They disgust me..."

Through this writing we learn of his dominating mother, the unwitting author of Bertrandís failings. We learn of the various and varied women he has seduced and those he has helped. We learn of his affair with Delphine, a bored housewife whose exploits get more and more psychotic as their relationship progresses. Everything finally culminates in him finishing his book and him becoming involved with the publisher herself. It is she who coins the title of the book over Bertrandís effort of calling it The Womaniser and it is her we learn who opens the film with her narration.

Not sure what to expect from a French film of 1977, this was still a little bit of a shock. I was expecting (it turns out) blatant nudity and sex scenes throughout, but in fact there is very little of this nature at all. Occasional breasts spotted throughout the film landscape are really all there are thatís of a graphic nature and these days theyíd barely raise an eyebrow if that. Even the themes of promiscuousness that may have been a bit more controversial in their day are nothing by our 21st centurian crumbling social ideals.

So, exploitative; not really. This is, however, an unusual portrayal of a man who has been driven to this endless pursuit by a mother of similar habits. His obsession with women is his drive; his very reason for living, and he is helpless but to follow it. Rather than fight it, he allows himself this obsession and gives over to it wholeheartedly and unapologetically, leaping from bed to bed with abandon. And in that regard, this isnít a depressive portrayal of mental disorder Ė quite the opposite in fact. While Bertrandís character isnít exactly likeable, he isnít bad, heís just a regular garden variety obsessive. And even thatís not the point of the film. There is no mention of hospitals or therapists or psychiatrists; this is just the way he is and the way he exists in the world.

As a film Iím sure this was slightly ahead of its time, but today it runs long and sluggishly through at least half and only gets really interesting during Bertrandís relationship with Delphine, the paranoid housewife. There is also an ongoing storyline throughout with a particular woman that we donít get full closure on and this is a mild let down. 114 minutes is way too long and this would do better to be trimmed down to a tight 85 minutes to better get its point across (whatever that point actually is).

  Video
Contract

For such an old film, this still looks reasonably okay. Containing its fair share of film artefacts, naturally, they donít really offend the eye or distract us too much. Colours are mildly washed out, as is so often the case in films of this age while blacks are mostly natural. Shadow detail, however, is non-existent which is annoying given there are numerous night and darkness shots.

Presented in 1.66:1 sans anamorphic enhancement (using my French there...) we get the full screen feeling, although it isnít wholly necessary given this focuses on people mainly and there are few landscape or panorama shots.

Flesh also, seems a bit off occasionally, though whether this is intentional or not is up in the air. Otherwise this looks dated, but fairly okay given its vintage.

  Audio
Contract

1977 wasnít a good year for 5.1 surround and so what we get here is a strictly mono mix. This is suitable, however, as the film rarely needs anything more than something to carry the dialogue, which is plentiful. Delivered in its native French, the English subtitles are suitable and keep pace well allowing us to follow the story easily.

Music has been scored here by Maurice Jaubert and is practically hidden in the background most of the time. Thinking about it now I canít think of an instant in which it leapt out or made its presence known, though of course it ran on unobtrusively throughout.

  Extras
Contract

We are granted but one extra in the original theatrical trailer. Delivered in 1.66:1, again sans enhancement, this runs for a teensy 36 seconds and surprisingly has a female voiceover. This is little more than a teaser really.

  Overall  
Contract

Well, for fans of '70s French cinema, hey this is your thing. Everyone else, however, might get the feeling of waiting for something that never truly arrives in this movie. The authenticity of sets and clothes are worth a look of course, but there is little here to hold us as a modern audience. While a relatively nice novelty piece, I wouldnít think this has the capacity to grab a wider audience today as it runs too slowly for too long and doesnít close all of its opened storylines effectively. Maybe a rental?


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=2966
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      And I quote...
    "Slow moving and lumbering, this film runs too long and doesnít speak its point loudly enough."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nintaus DVD-N9901
    • TV:
          Sony 51cm
    • Receiver:
          Diamond
    • Speakers:
          Diamond
    • Surrounds:
          No Name
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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