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A deeply religious Catholic engineer (Jean-Lous Trintignant) is torn between a seemingly angelic blonde and a vivacious, intellectual brunette, in Eric Rohmer's sly, stimulating and eloquent meditation on the mysterious intertwining of sex and spirituality.
Voted the best foreign film of the seventies by an international poll of film critics, Ma nuit chez Maud is set in Clermont-Ferrand over the Christmas season. Jean-Louis Trintignant defines subtlety as a deeply religious Catholic engineer torn between a seemingly angelic blonde woman (Marie-Christine Barrault) he sees at church and the vivacious, intellectual brunette Maud (Françoise Fabian) — a choice which for him becomes an ethical test of Pascal's theory of free will and chance. In Rohmer, sex is more in the chat than in the sack, so this one-night stand wittily transforms erotic possibility into spiritual quandary; intercourse yields to discourse, and seduction is replaced by philosophical thrust and parry. The result is as sexy as it is intellectually stimulating. "The real mastery of My Night at Maud's lies in its status as a piece of pure cinema. . . . The three key conversation scenes in the film . . . are masterpieces of cinema" (Nick Roddick).