A Man and a Woman: Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva

A Man and a Woman: Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva

A Man and a Woman: Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva

A Man and a Woman: Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva

A Man and a Woman: Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva

A Man and a Woman: Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva

TIFF Cinematheque - Retrospective

Skip to schedule and film credits
This tribute to the legendary stars of Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or-winning Amour features classics by such major auteurs as Bernardo Bertolucci, Alain Resnais, Eric Rohmer, Krzysztof Kieslowski and Costa-Gavras.

Films in A Man and a Woman: Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva

    • Thérèse Desqueyroux
    • Georges Franju
    • Emmanuelle Riva gives a superlative performance as a provincial woman who is driven to murderous lengths to escape from her suffocating marriage in Georges Franju's compelling adaptation of the novel by François Mauriac.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Confidentially Yours
    • Vivement dimanche
    • François Truffaut
    • A devoted secretary (Fanny Ardant) tries to clear her boss (Jean-Louis Trintignant) of a murder charge in François Truffaut's lustrous homage to Hitchcock and American film noir.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Les Biches
    • The Girlfriends
    • Claude Chabrol
    • An ultra-chic lesbian (Stèphane Audran) seduces a young bohemian woman into a deadly ménage à trois with her male lover (Jean-Louis Trintignant) in Claude Chabrol's corrosive, elegantly perverse study of bourgeois vanity and vacuity.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Violent Summer
    • Estate violenta
    • Valerio Zurlini
    • On the idyllic Italian coast in the midst of World War II, the carefree son (Jean-Louis Trintignant) of a high-ranking Fascist blissfully ignores the war while falling into a passionate, risk-all affair with a beautiful widow.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Three Colors: Red
    • Trois couleurs: Rouge
    • Krzysztof Kieslowski
    • A beautiful young model (Irène Jacob) becomes involved with a voyeuristic ex-judge (Jean-Louis Trintignant) in the concluding panel of Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors triptych.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Trans-Europ-Express
    • Alain Robbe-Grillet
    • Celebrated nouveau roman writer Alain Robbe-Grillet wrote and directed this Pirandellian thriller about a drug smuggler (Jean-Louis Trintignant) on an Antwerp-bound train whose looks, demeanour and motives shift from one encounter to the next.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • The Outside Man
    • Un homme est mort
    • Jacques Deray
    • Adrift in L.A. after he is called in for a hit on a mob boss, a Parisian contract killer (Jean-Louis Trintignant) is chased across the city by a gum-smacking assassin (Roy Scheider) in this lean, mean cult thriller from director Jacques Deray.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Thomas the Imposter
    • Thomas L'Imposteur
    • Georges Franju
    • A young man with an exceedingly weak grasp on the divide between fiction and reality is thrown into the maelstrom of World War I in this essential and very rare classic by Georges Franju.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Le Combat dans l'île
    • Alain Cavalier
    • This buried treasure of '60s French cinema segues from politically-charged thriller to tenderly affecting romance as a young woman (the gorgeous Romy Schneider) discovers that her jealous and abusive husband (Jean-Louis Trintignant) has become embroiled with a shadowy, right-wing paramilitary group.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • The Conformist
    • Il Conformista
    • Bernardo Bertolucci
    • Bernardo Bertolucci's gorgeously decadent adaptation of the novel by Alberto Moravia gave Jean-Louis Trintignant one of his greatest roles as a suave lawyer who tries to sublimate his repressed homosexuality by joining Mussolini's Fascists.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Hiroshima mon amour
    • Alain Resnais
    • A French actress (Emmanuelle Riva) recalls her traumatic wartime past while having an affair with a Japanese architect in Alain Resnais' masterful meditation on time, memory and forgetfulness.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • A Man and a Woman
    • Un homme et une femme
    • Claude Lelouch
    • A race-car driver (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and a script girl on a movie set (Anouk Aimée) embark on a passionate affair in Claude Lelouch's chic, Academy Award-winning romance.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Z
    • Costa-Gavras
    • A determined magistrate (Jean-Louis Trintignant) investigates the assassination of a left-wing politician in Costa-Gavras' controversial, ultra-suspenseful political thriller.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Ma nuit chez Maud
    • My Night at Maud's
    • Eric Rohmer
    • A deeply religious Catholic engineer (Jean-Lous Trintignant) is torn between a seemingly angelic blonde and a vivacious, intellectual brunette, in Eric Rohmer's sly, stimulating and eloquent meditation on the mysterious intertwining of sex and spirituality.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Kapò
    • Gillo Pontecorvo
    • Emmanuelle Riva is mesmerizing as an inmate of a Nazi labour camp in this groundbreaking Holocaust drama by Gillo Pontecorvo (The Battle of Algiers).

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Il Sorpasso
    • The Easy Life
    • Dino Risi
    • An uptight law student (Jean-Louis Trintignant) is taken under the wing of a loud-mouthed good-time guy (Vittorio Gassman) in this classic example of "comedy Italian style."

    • No events playing at this time.
    • ... And God Created Woman
    • Et Dieu... créa la femme
    • Roger Vadim
    • Jean-Louis Trintignant gives a career-making performance opposite the luscious Brigitte Bardot in Roger Vadim's legendary succès de scandale.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Léon Morin, Priest
    • Léon Morin, prêtre
    • Jean-Pierre Melville
    • In the midst of the Nazi occupation, a provincial Frenchwoman (Emmanuelle Riva) falls in love with a young parish priest (Jean-Paul Belmondo) in Jean-Pierre Melville's moving drama of faith tested and confirmed.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Three Colors: Blue
    • Trois couleurs: Bleu
    • Krzysztof Kieslowski
    • A young woman (Juliette Binoche) who lost her husband and daughter in a car crash seeks to detach herself completely from her past in the first part of Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors trilogy.

    • No events playing at this time.

"I was so young once!" cries the unnamed woman played by Emmanuelle Riva in Alain Resnais' Hiroshima mon amour. More than a half century later, in Michael Haneke's Amour, the octogenarian Riva surveys a photo album of her life with her husband and muses, even as her physical and mental states deteriorate, "C'est belle, la vie!" Life is decidedly not beautiful in Haneke's brief history of debility, but the magisterial performances of Riva as Anne and Jean-Louis Trintignant as her forebearing husband Georges render the film's account of incapacitation less intolerable than transcendent. Amour's immense poignancy issues not only from its portrait of a love total though not eternal — the irreligious Haneke brooks no hint of the afterlife — but also from its affecting record of the faltering bodies, wattled flesh, rheumy eyes and erratic gait of its veteran leads. Riva and Trintignant are perfectly matched as former music teachers; both actors have always exuded cultural refinement — she loves to write poetry, he to recite it — vivacious intelligence, and a certain veiled or enigmatic quality. (Trintignant famously proclaimed: "The best actors in the world are those who feel the most and show the least.") This sense of abstraction or quelque chose caché in their beings has attracted directors as diverse as the cerebral Resnais and Alain Robbe-Grillet and the humanist-mystical Krzysztof Kieslowski.

Ever the cinephilic auteur, Haneke clearly incorporates the filmic associations of the two actors' personae into the characters of Georges and Anne. Just as Haneke earlier wrote Caché for Daniel Autueil, who he felt has the same "secret" or "hidden" nature that Trintignant has, he devised Amour with the latter actor in mind. ("I wrote the script for Jean-Louis Trintignant. I've always admired and wanted to work with him; it was just a question of finding the right role. It was a sine qua non that he would be involved. Without him I wouldn't have made the film. He radiated the warmth that I needed for the film.") "Yes, I was very uptight," Georges admits towards the end of Amour, conjuring all the repressed, timid or introverted characters Trintignant has played, from the unsure young war dodger in Valerio Zurlini's Violent Summer through the suave fascists of Alain Cavalier's Le Combat dans l'île and Bernardo Bertolucci's The Conformist to the indecisive engineer in Eric Rohmer's Ma nuit chez Maud. Only occasionally allowed to express the smiling joie de vivre he displayed in real life — where he indulged in the Trintignant clan's mania for car racing — and little of the warmth Haneke seems to discern in him, Trintignant often plays sec or tamped characters whose vocations involve precision, decision, or intellection: architects, judges, doctors, engineers, law students. The dark glasses behind which he remains shaded in Costa-Gavras' Z (which disconcerted the film's other actors on set) serve as a metaphor for his concealment and remoteness; even as the bondage-loving drug runner in Robbe-Grillet's Trans-Europ-Express, Trintignant remains dapper and a little detached. (Trintignant reportedly turned down the Marlon Brando role in Last Tango in Paris because he objected to the many nude scenes.)

Remembering the coolly beautiful Riva in Hiroshima mon amour — "Deform me, make me ugly," she instructs her Japanese lover — makes her senescent frailty in Amour all the more affecting. Riva's characters are often as inward as Trintignant's, though their reserve derives not from timidity or introversion, but from a sense of entrapment. "Elle" cannot free herself from the fetters of memory in Hiroshima mon amour; the imperiously fragile Princesse de Bormes in Georges Franju's Thomas the Imposter cannot escape the realities of war, as much as she attempts to turn carnage into theatre; the eponymous poisoner in Franju's Thérèse Desqueyroux, her face a mask of domestic suffering, literally becomes a prisoner of the clan she has unhappily married into; and Barny, the atheist widow in Melville's Léon Morin, Priest, is trapped in an unattainable passion for a priest. Exquisite in suffering, Riva never submits to martyrdom. Extending her role as the mother beset by Alzheimer's in Kieslowski's Three Colors: Blue, Riva courageously incarnates the ailing Anne in Amour, her mind unmoored, her immobilized body submitted to humiliating ablutions. Godard averred that "Every film is a documentary of its actors." Amour is, in that sense, a magnificent documentary.

—James Quandt

Some passages of this essay were first published in an article for Artforum International, November 2012.

Thanks to Laure Dahout, Consulat général de France à Toronto; Paola Ruggiero & Luciana Caprara, Cinecittà.