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May Fools

December 19, 2016, 7:00 PM


The great French director Louis Malle (Atlantic City, Au Revoir Les Enfants) deals with the possible coming of revolution obliquely, as a warmly human comedy, in the pastoral, Spring 1968-set May Fools.

“You feel in its images a sense of sunny embrace, a feeling of comfort and leisure and warm sensuality. You absorb it, the way you do the dappled light in the paintings of Renoir, or a clear, vivid day with a blanket laid out in the grass and wine rising in your blood. You bask in it. The film’s spirit is one of affectionate satire, and its style suggests a commingling of Chekhov and Mozart and both Renoirs — the filmmaker, Jean, and his father, Pierre Auguste. The story it tells is projected against the events of May 1968 when, all over France, a wave of radicalism threatened to leave sweeping social changes in its wake. The film’s setting, though, is far away from the strikes and the riots and the free-thinking students who led them. At the rather ramshackle old country estate where the movie takes place, these upheavals are threatening only in a distant, abstract way….But with the mother’s death and the gathering of the clan for her funeral, the world teeters as precariously on the edge of revolution as the rest of the country. Everywhere, change is in the air…For a moment, they all lose their inhibitions. Picnicking under a tree, they drink wine and smoke pot and let their fantasies soar. And in that idyllic instant, something new seems to be dawning. These sun-licked afternoon scenes have a dreamy lyricism and beauty; they’re masterful in a quiet, understated way. Malle and Carriere poke gentle fun at the fatuity of this bourgeois play-acting, but they don’t begrudge the characters their kicks….The movie’s spirit is infectious; its effects are the same as those of Stephane Grappelli’s music — it makes your limbs hang looser, your soul unclench”—Hal Hinson, Washington Post.

In French with English subtitles, R, 107 min., 1990.

Tickets: $9 for adults, $5 for students.


December 19, 2016
7:00 PM


Maine Film Center
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Monday Night Movies: Revolutions


Waterville Opera House
1 Common Street
Waterville, ME United States
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