The Man Who Loved Women (1977)

he Man Who Loved Women is a Frenchman who has had so many lovers that he begins writing a book about all of his romantic escapades. In the process, he delves into the history of his obsession with the female form and discovers a new love interest with his publisher. This is a mildly pleasant mid 70s French flick about a cassanova who literally came across few women he didn’t attempt to bed. His conquests are the basis of the film where pure charm won women over. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I thoroughly enjoyed this movie! The acclaimed François Truffaut directed. Many Truffaut films are auto-biographical, and this is very close to the private life of Francois Truffaut. Truffaut has a Hitchcock moment in the beginning of the film. This is probably his best film. A slow start to a serious & interesting film. Second half picks up, and the end is very effective. Francois Truffaut’s subtle comedy is told in flashback form as his title character, while writing his memoirs, recalls a life of womanizing. When Bertrand (in the movie) decides to write a book about his relations, the movie amuses, as Bertrand tells his tales of past love affairs in a capricious manner. Though the director has made more powerful films, this can be counted among his most enjoyable work. I was emotionally involved with the characters. This film is a light and whimsical study of a nice guy who adores womanhood so much that he can’t seem to find everything that he loves in a single girl. The interesting thing about Bertrand, played by Charles Denner, is that he seems quite comfortable with his voracious appetite for different women — especially their legs. He doesn’t seem desperate to find the ‘right’ woman or to settle down; instead he’s a certified bachelor. We forgive him this because he’s charming, and also because he’s so honest with the women who parade in and out of his life: he promises them nothing, asks little in return, and treats all of them with respect. Truffaut’s film gives us a chance to see what makes this guy tick, and in the end how his inability to dedicate his life to just one woman has left him somewhat lonely and hollow. I was pleasantly surprised by the depth and humor of this film. The acting by the main character is excellent. He is very funny and subtle. The story is quite engaging. There are many subtle and deep layers of meaning to this film. Mr. Truffaut did a wonderful job at giving the character of Bertrand some complexity that isn’t evident early in the film. To accuse Bertrand of being a playboy and a cad isn’t that easy despite his liberal, womanizing ways. And I can safely say that a fetish for beautiful legs is not uncommon. We want to label him a pig, but we can sense that there is more below the surface. As the film progresses we see vulnerabilities and his source of heartbreak. Instead of hating him we end up sympathizing with him. I think it’s a dream of every man to have as many women as possible, but life being unfair, that is not always possible. In this film, however, the main character gets all the women he desires, and one can’t help but envy his ability to be able to do so, and so easily. Though not an exceptionally good looking lothario, he treats his women with respect and seems to have success with every pick except the telephone operator who wakes him up in the morning. The movie is laced with a few humorous situations, but overall the director has successfully put the viewer lock step with Bertrand and his innermost thoughts, as he narrates his thoughts in the first person. To explain this film as I understand it, the best way for me to do so is through analogy. Men claim to like women, but they really prefer football. Women claim to like men, but they really prefer children. In the world of this film there is one man who really prefers women, and women seem to recognize him as a man who doesn’t prefer football. So there is a spark that leads to many relationships. His looks and age are really unimportant. His passion seems to connect with a woman’s desire directly. When the film showed and delved into Bertrand relationships, I found this movie to be very insightful. This film may be especially meaningful for men who……well, no apologies here, men in their 40’s, slightly aging lotharios. A beautifully paced, bitter-sweet movie. It will make you think about all the women you have been attracted to. This is truly how some men of that age think. Maybe in 1976 a man like this would be considered intriguing, but now he may seem somewhat creepy and pathetic. That is very sad indeed. He means no harm. He’s just being a guy. From 21st century eyes it’s easy to apply a label of “creepy” to many of the films sequences of the protagonist wandering the streets, hands in pockets ogling women. While the film’s honesty is refreshing, some of these kinds of scenes have been sullied by thrillers and stalker films in our perhaps more dangerous times. But it’s hard not to be amused with the open endearment this lone older fellow who is compulsively engaged by the very women he is following like a predator. This is a tale of a fellow who can’t get enough woman on his plate, and spends a lot of time shopping for more. This is a film about relationships, a man’s relationship and attitude towards the connection with females. Wonderful acting by Charles Denner, who does a good job as the hapless Betrand. Although I think the guy is too gloomy, perhaps Truffaut was super-serious like this himself. A lighter touch would have worked better. After all, love of beauty is supposed to uplift the soul, not depress it. Yet the film is filled with humor and joie-de-vivre. Truffaut was a master at combining light and dark, like there is in every life. I thought it odd that the leading character was so cold-hearted with his conquests. After all, he was no Brad Pitt and should have been more appreciative to the ladies. This film is everything I love about foreign films, and particularly the cinema of that era. I found the plot very funny and interesting. It’s also very well-acted and well-directed. Truffaut in near-peak form, exploring fantasies while also saying something important about life and the social treadmill. The beautiful women who appear in this movie are reason-enough to see this film. Not much eroticism for a movie centered around sex. Truffaut’s style here is very ‘Hollywood,’ and most viewers will really enjoy this. Glorious. So the clothes and hair are out of date, unless you’re into vintage, but the remainder here is as true today as always: Some men just love women because they’re women, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s celebratory. I am a successful, happy, healthy white American male in my 40s, hetero and happy. Women rule. Great flick. For all human beings. Period. Exuberant and entertaining. This is a thoughtful date movie filled with very interesting characters. A pleasant movie worth watching once at least. A viewer would benefit by watching this film a couple of times to get all the subtle points. I saw this film when it was new but didn’t think any more of it than good entertainment. Seeing it for the second time, Truffaut’s psychological insights became quite clear. This is a great movie for those who want a bit more than just entertainment. What a great little film, loved it. I made it through the two-hour running time without ever looking at the clock. I enjoyed the film a lot and recommend it highly. For those who only know the silly Blake Edward’s remake with Burt Reynolds, this film is far better. This is a great companion piece to other French movies like Practice Makes Perfect or Pardon Mon Affaire. Although I think those films have more realistic outcomes. For the flip side of this movie try Un Coeur En Hiver or Damagewhere everything is intense, the men convoluted and the outcome heavier. Something like Les Femmes with Bardot of nearly the same era. A bit of a French 81/2. (L’homme Qui Aimait Les Femmes; The Man Who Loved Love) Comedy1977 NR 119 minutes.

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