Years ago, Eric Rohmer wrote the story, “My Night at Maud’s,” one of his Six Moral Tales, before he filmed it. In my opinion, the film gets boring; the written story, for all its dialogue, does not.
Seldom in his oeuvre did Rohmer make as many references to Catholic, or Christian, faith as he did in “Maud’s.” The Michelin engineer (unnamed), living in Clermont-Ferrand in France, befriends for a short time the beautiful divorcee, Maud. He also necks with her a bit despite being a Catholic who believes he is destined, or predestined, to marry a fellow Catholic named Francoise. Resistant to having sex with Maud, the engineer nevertheless makes the mistake, on a dangerously snowy night, of lying down next to Maud on her bed for an night’s ordinary sleep. Maud’s mistake is putting her arms around the man and pressing her body against his.
Still, no sex.
And then there’s Francoise. Gradually the matter of forgiveness pops up: Will the engineer forgive Francoise for a particular amatory-sexual sin? The themes that emerge in Rohmer’s story are spiritual playing-with-fire, perfidy in severe and mild forms, and the challenges to chastity. It is a successful Christian tale which I don’t believe should have been made into a movie, unlike another moral tale, “Claire’s Knee,” which is okay as a movie.
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