“What we have is extraordinary… It has to stay that way.”
After meeting at a family wedding, a woman (Marie-Christine Barrault) and her distant cousin (Victor Lanoux) become friends and then lovers, while their philandering spouses (Guy Marchand and Marie-France Pisier) get increasingly jealous.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- French Films
- Romantic Comedy
This lilting French comedy — essentially a tale of romantic revenge — is listed as a cult movie in the back of Peary’s book, and was remade in 1989 as Cousins, starring Isabella Rossellini and Ted Danson. It’s easy to understand why American audiences were so taken with it, given that it represents a decidedly “European” approach to love and marriage — one which allows for an unconventional, free-spirited attitude towards extra-marital affairs. From the beginning of the film, we’re made to sympathize with the long-suffering Barrault and Lanoux, who accept their spouses’ philandering with an air of insouciant sadness; once they discover their attraction for one another other, we can’t help but cheer them on, because their spouses deserve to worry and wonder. A frothy souffle, but worth a look.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- A light-hearted look at infidelity and sexual mores in the 1970s
- Marchand breaking things off with his six extra-marital lovers
No, but it’s recommended for one-time viewing.