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Brigitte and Brigitte  
Luc Moullet
1966 || 95 mins

Two naive young women, both from provincial villages, move to Paris. There they move into an apartment together, enrol at the Sorbonne, learn to become sophisticated cinephiles and fall in love.

see also articles on:
Top 10 Films by Lesser Known Directors || Luc Moullet Profile|| French New Wave History || French New Wave Film Guide

Anybody who has graduated from high school in the sticks to the sophistication of a big city university will recognise the ordeals undergone by the two Brigittes in this typically screwball satire by Luc Moullet. The two innocents abroad soon have their naïve notions trampled underfoot when they come up against the inflexible obstacles encountered when renting rooms, enrolling for classes, and crossing student protest lines. A new campus turns out to be a building site and their lecturer is more or less incomprehensible. A sightseeing jaunt in Paris proves equally disappointing when historic landmarks don’t live up to expectations; only a modernist office building that “looks like a Goldfinger set”, gets top marks from the girls.

Moullet generates humour through irony and absurdity. Like his contemporary Dick Lester, whose swinging London comedy The Knack won the Palme D’or at Cannes and was all the rage at the time that Brigitte et Brigitte was filmed, he draws inspiration from the silent movie era and the work of directors such as Buster Keaton. Sometimes the jokes can be rather laboured; in this case the girls’ lengthy excursion to the country with their boyfriends and their hapless attempts to milk a cow lacks the bite of the rest of the film, but thanks to the earnest charm of the two female leads, Colette Descombes and Francoise Vatel, we stay engaged.

As an ardent cinephile, Moullet began writing for Cahiers du Cinéma at the age of 18 and some of Brigitte et Brigitte’s funniest scenes poke fun at solemn young film fanatics for whom cinema is very definitely more important than life. When Brigitte asks one of them for his greatest wish, he replies wistfully, “to die watching a film.” There are amusing cameo appearances too by Claude Chabrol as a randy cousin, Eric Rohmer as a stern academic, and Samuel Fuller as himself. “Here is a revolutionary film, and if it isn’t one, I don’t see what could be,” was Jean-Luc Godard’s description of the film – a line that appropriately enough sounds like it might have been spoken by one of the characters in the film.

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