TWO ENGLISH GIRLS (Deux Anglaises et le Continent) (ANNE AND MURIEL)


(director/writer: François Truffaut; screenwriters: Jean Gruault/based on the novel by Henri-Pierre Roche; cinematographer: Nestor Almendros; editors: Martine Barraqué/Yann Dedet; music: Georges Delerue; cast: Jean-Pierre Léaud (Claude Roc), Kika Markham (Anne Brown), Stacy Tendeter (Muriel Brown), Sylvia Marriott (Mrs. Brown), Philippe Léotard (Diurka), Marie Mansart (Mme. Roc), Irene Tunc (Ruta); Runtime: 130; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Claude Miller; Janus; 1971-France-in French with English subtitles)

“Overrated romantic triangle charmer.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Cinephile and New Wave filmmaker François Truffaut (“The 400 Blows”/”Bed and Board”/”Stolen Kisses”) is cowriter (with Jean Gruault) and director of this overrated romantic triangle charmer, a film that becomes increasingly annoying as its over sensitive characters go on and on and things take on an artificially staged look. It also lacks any poetic heft, but it offers a gentle nostalgic mood piece of how lovers can sometimes be too nice for their own good. It’s based on the novel by Henri-Pierre Roche, who was the author of Jules and Jim (the author began writing at age 74 and these two romantic triangles were his only books). The film’s theme covers how baffling and complex love can be, especially when one must make choices. What doesn’t happen becomes just as pertinent as to what happens, as this film offers an elegant variation on the other film’s love triangle. It beautifully uses a desaturated color in an effort to imitate early two-tone Technicolor. It was released to disappointing reviews in its cut 108 version, which the unhappy director believed was due to the producers cutting his original 130 minute length and before his death in 1984 he restored it back to its original length which made things more coherent.

The film is set at the turn of the 20th century. Aspiring young French writer, a momma’s boy and a rake, Claude Roc (Jean-Pierre Léaud), takes a vacation to a coastal resort in Wales with his mother (Marie Mansart) and meets the lovely Brown sisters from England, Anne (Kika Markham) and Muriel (Stacey Tendeter). Claude previously met Anne in Paris, and is eager to meet her again in her dwelling place. She’s an outgoing, free-spirited sculptress while Muriel is a freckled redhead virgin who works as a teacher and is more religious and repressed. Over the next 7 years we witness the shifting relationship between Claude and the sisters and how their romantic feelings for each other never go beyond sex to become the love they more honestly feel for each other. That is mostly blocked by either distance, the two strong-willed mothers, the unwillingness of the trio to hurt another or the conventions of the time. Claude becomes an art critic, and the trio finds ways to remain friends but true love remains the elusive prize that’s never grabbed even after Claude has sex with both Anne and Muriel.