Adapted from Marguerite Duras’ book of the same name by Peter Brook, Moderato Cantabile is an interesting psychological drama about a bored, lonely housewife whose mundane life takes an unexpected and dramatic swing. Anne (Jeanne Moreau) is married to the wealthy owner of a large company which employs a significant percentage of the population of the small wan French town she resides in. Most of her daily activities revolve around her son; her dull, routine, however, life goes for a toss when, one day while her son is being given piano lessons at his stern teacher’s home, she hears a woman screaming. Unable to get the better of her curiosity, she rushes down to find that a beautiful young lady has been murdered by her fiancé at the café downstairs – and she ends up getting morbidly attracted to the crime. This gets her acquainted to Chauvin (Jean-Paul Belmondo), a young working-class man who frequents that café and has been silently in love with her. The more her carefully chiseled, conservative life gets disrupted because of her growing attractions towards him, the more disillusioned and liberated she starts becoming on account of her growing existential crisis, much to the dismay of everyone. Moreau gave a wonderfully restrained turn as the complex protagonist who is, subconsciously, so much at odds with her existence; Belmondo, too, was noteworthy, even though his character needed better defining and a more plausible arc. The soft B/W visuals, the fine minimalist score, and the leisurely pacing, added to the subtle charm of this melancholic, if largely uneventful and unaffecting film.
Director: Peter Brook
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Existential Drama/Romance