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My Night at Maud's (French: Ma nuit chez Maud) is a 1969 film from France, directed by Éric Rohmer.

The protagonist is an unnamed 34-year-old man (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who works as an engineer at the Michelin plant in Clermont.note  The man is an observant Catholic who goes to midnight mass on Christmas Eve, but his religious piety does not prevent him from being infatuated with a beautiful blonde who rides about town on her bicycle.

The man runs into his old school friend Vidal. Vidal is both a professor and a Marxist, and the two start in on a debate about Pascal's Wager and the nature of God. Clermont gets slammed with snow on Christmas night, and the man can't make it out to his home in the country, so Vidal invites the man to stay overnight in the home of his girlfriend Maud. Maud (Francoise Fabian) is an atheist like Vidal, and a sexually adventurous libertine to boot. Maud, who is obviously intrigued by Vidal's friend while also amused at his religious faith, sets out to seduce him.

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This film was the third of Rohmer's Six Moral Tales, a series of six films that weren't really a series, but were connected by a shared theme of human morality. It's Rohmer's most famous film and often considered his Magnum Opus. My Night at Maud's was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, but lost to Z, another film that starred Jean-Louis Trintignant.


Tropes:

  • Author Appeal: Rohmer was fascinated by Blaise Pascal and Pascal's Wager, to the extent of producing a television discussion on the subject a few years before this film.
  • Betty and Veronica:
    • In an inversion, the protagonist rejects the Veronica figure (Maud) to pursue the Betty figure (Françoise), though by the end, which personality each woman actually fits isn't nearly as clear-cut as it seemed earlier.
    • You can also interpret the protagonist (Betty) and Vidal (Veronica) as a male version of the dyad, and Maud also gravitates to the Betty figure.
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  • Deliberately Monochrome: After filming La Collectionneuse in color in 1967, Rohmer elected to do this film in black & white, an unexpected move for 1969.
  • Did I Mention It's Christmas?: It's the holidays, but other than a midnight mass it seems like no big deal. Lampshaded when one character says "Protestant countries make a big thing out of Christmas."
  • Distant Finale: After most of the movie takes place over a week, the finale leaps forward five years for the final meeeting between the protagonist and Maud.
  • Dreaming of a White Christmas: Clermont can get snowy in the winter, so it's a Justified Trope.
  • Ethical Slut: Maud is dating Vidal but she has no problem with seducing the protagonist.
  • Foreshadowing: In the words of the Mass, of all places: "I am not worthy to receive thee under my roof. But only say the word and my soul will be healed." There's a close-up profile shot of Françoise as this gets repeated, and the words point to what eventually will happen between her and the protagonist (and in an ironic way, they also apply to Maud).
  • Hypocrite: Vidal and Maud both accuse the protagonist of this, saying he calls himself a Catholic but he's slept with women before. The protagonist replies that he never said he was perfect.
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: The one woman in the protagonist's life, Maud, is brunette, and she's a free-spirited Ethical Slut who doesn't believe in God and tries to seduce the protagonist. His other woman, Francoise, is blonde and sweet and sleeps with a crucifix above her bed. However, this is played with and deconstructed to some extent—it's hinted that Maud feels more for the protagonist than she's willing to admit, and Francoise is revealed to be not as innocent as she looks.
  • No Name Given: The protagonist is never named. Some sources call him "Jean-Louis", but that's just using the name of Jean-Louis Trintignant.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: The narrator, Francoise, and their son go skipping off into the surf at the beach.
  • She's Got Legs: Vidal calls Maud out when she comes out of the side room dressed only in a man's long shirt.
    Vidal: You just wanted to show off your legs!
    Maud: Precisely! My only means of seduction.
  • Slip into Something More Comfortable: Maud says she needs to change, disappears into the back, and comes out wearing nothing but a man's shirt.
  • Snow Means Love: A new blanket of snow has fallen in the town when the protagonist ventures out the next day and finally has the nerve to approach Francoise. They hit it off.
  • Speech-Centric Work: A lot of talking in this movie, especially in the long long scene in Maud's apartment where they talk about Pascal and faith.
  • Stalker with a Crush: The protagonist comes off like this when he's in his car following around Francoise on her bicycle.
  • There Is Only One Bed: Maud does this deliberately, inviting the protagonist to stay the night and then revealing that oops, she doesn't have a guest room.
  • Title Drop: Not directly, but the conversation between Maud and the protagonist at the end of the film points out the significance of the wording of the title. He mentions "That evening (soir) at your place", and she corrects him: "Evening? Night (nuit), you mean. Our night (notre nuit)", subtly reminding him that he didn't just visit her, he literally spent the night in her bed.
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