The Man Who Loved Women Review
Bertrand (Charles Denner) is a man so obsessed with making female conquests, he thinks nothing of travelling across France for a furtive emcounter with any of them. He'll invent any stratagem to manufacture a meeting with a women he finds seductive - he follows them home, he fakes an an accident, he stares at them, he stalks them... Anything is fair game so long as it gets them into his bed. When the morning dawns, his love for each women rapidly dies and their presence becomes suffocating. Time to move on to the next woman...
The late Charles Denner has already played the role of the seducer in the likes of Chabrol's Landru (in that case, one who murders each conquest and stuffs them into a stove) but, even so, it's still hard to see what is so irresistible in him that women of all ages want to risk everything to spend some "time" with him. Is it his nicotine-stained skin? His rough face? His once-stylish leather jackets? His suave French accent? Truffaut does little to explain the attraction that women have for him and frankly most viewers will have to suspend disbelief for the full two hours of the film.
Though Bertrand is definately a rather unsympathetic character, Truffaut manages to infuse enough humour and pathos in the character's life story, to make us care for him despite it all; he lets us see inside the character by making him write a book of his life - something that Truffaut characters always seem to do! - and little by little, the character moves from looking like a sexist stalker to a pathetic human being unable to truly love anyone.
Denner's lead performance is particularly strong and he seems to live out his character to the full - the rest of the cast gets little time to make much of an impact on the screen as all the women are relegated to bit part performances given Bertrand's tendency to change women more regularly than underwear. The stunning Brigitte Fossey - a French actress too rarely seen on the silver screen - does get the chance to make her mark on the film and gives her usual light and natural performance.
The major problem with the film is that it's pretty hard to feel too enthusiastic with the subject - though the treatment is rather clever and more in depth than the dreadful Hollywood remake, it seems to be a rather banal starting point for a film. The film suffers even more so in comparison to Truffaut's much maligned yet superb La Peau Douce making Bertrand's sexual imbroglios seem rather trite in comparison. It has long been considered to be a minor Truffaut though the film retains enough charm and style to make it worthwhile viewing.
The image and sound:
The print isn't too dirty bar some rather large reel change burns and the a certain amount of flecks and speckles. The colours however are a little too murky for my taste and in some scenes the grain is far too evident; there's also a few minor occurrences of aliasing and I was under the impression that the film lacked in luminosity and would have needed some digital remastering. Once again we don't get an anamorphic transfer as the film is 1.66:1 - a bad habit that MGM seem to be developing. Globally the transfer is watchable but not really as good as it should have been.
The sound on the other hand is a problem free but unsurprising mono available in a variety of dubs and the original French.
The subtitles and menus:For some reason, we only get English for HOH which is a tad irritating - given the amount of subtitles available surely MGM could at least be bothered to do a non-HOH set of subs for English speakers? The annoyance level of this is rather person dependent so it's either a major flaw or a minor error.
The menus are your usual basic MGM - nothing special but functional enough.
The extras:Just the US trailer in a 4:3 transfer.
Conclusions:Once again the MGM release of a Truffaut is tainted by what has been done to most of Truffaut's release by the likes of MK2 and Criterion - though the film is not a great Truffaut, given the director's influence and status, one would expect to have a better image and decent extras instead of this type of release.