The third installment of Eric Rohmer’s famed Six Moral Tales series, Ma nuit chez Maud begins when Jean-Louis, a Catholic engineer recently returned from abroad, runs into Vidal, an old school friend turned Marxist philosophy professor. After attending midnight mass on Christmas Eve, the pair retire to the home of Maud, a beautiful divorcee and sometime paramore of Vidal. The evening begins with a discussion on the merits of Pascal (Catholic Jean-Louis is opposed, Marxist Vidal is in favor). But when a snowstorm leaves Jean-Louis alone and trapped with the enticing Maud, his moral principles are put to the test.
The film is rather talk-centric (which is a feature not a bug as far as I’m concerned, but reasonable minds may differ). Ultimately, though, I found the film to be a rather profound meditation on the nature of temptation, as well as love, and I found the blend of French new wave cinema with religious themes to be quite intriguing. Some might also find appealing the repeated use of “Jansenist” as an epithet. Recommended.