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Scientist Bertrand Morane, "never in the company of men after 5," seduces women by evening and writes about the experiences in the early morning. Though 40ish and somewhat square, no woman in the town of Montpelier seems capable of resisting his earnest advances. Not much else happens in The Man Who Loved Women, but in the hands of master visual storyteller François Truffaut, the threadbare plot accumulates deep and ominous philosophical resonances. What drives Morane from woman to woman, and what accounts for his remarkable success? Does he secretly dislike women and consider them interchangeable (as one of the more prurient characters charges, to Morane's genuine befuddlement), or is his enthusiasm a kind of celebration? Truffaut refuses to answer plainly, but does drop clues; as his camera focuses on everyday objects, many take on a chilling, otherwordly luster, and coldly foreshadow Morane's fate. A deceptively simple film, The Man Who Loved Women is neither an indictment nor an apology for philandering; rather, it's a courageous, lovingly detailed portrait of a complex, intelligent man suffering from an altogether intractable complaint. This film was clumsily remade in English in 1983 by Blake Edwards, with Burt Reynolds assuming the role played here with such understated skill by the wonderful Charles Denner. --Miles Bethany
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