American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
Eric Rohmer's "My Night at Maud's" is about love, being a Roman Catholic, body language and the games people play. It is just about the best movie I've seen on all four subjects. It is also, a refreshingly intelligent movie: not that it's ideological or academic (far from it) but that it is thoughtful, and reveals a deep knowledge of human nature. Please don't see it on a night when you simply want to flick out: Wait until you're in a fairly together state and will be about to talk about it afterward. It deserves that attention and rewards it.
Jean-Louis Trintignant (who played the prosecutor in "Z" and the man in "A Man and a Woman") is perfectly believable as a 34-year-old devout Catholic who is lonely and sensitive and would rather be married than single. He takes the church's teachings on courtship and marriage quite seriously and is articulate in defending them against his dissenting friends. He's held jobs overseas for several years, but when we meet him, he is employed by Michelin in a French provincial capital, and is in love at a distance with a blond girl he's never met: He sees her in church on Sundays and occasionally sees her guiding her motorcycle through the streets.
One day he runs into an old friend who takes him to the home of his fiancé, Maud. Maud is a divorcee who dates the old friend but won't marry him. She likes Jean-Louis and asks him to stay when the friend must leave.
And then follows one of the most marvelously observed scenes of human behavior I can remember in a film. The two people talk nearly all night. Maud is in her nightgown and sits in bed propped up against her pillows. Jean-Louis sits in one chair or another, or walks around the room. They talk about sex, love, marriage and divorce. The conversation moves from flippancy to intimacy, and then has a way of drawing back from too much truth-telling.