For a better experience on MUBI, update your browser.
Critics reviews
The Mother and the Whore
Jean Eustache France, 1973
A voluble dirge, the love-triangle epic looks askance at the cultural revolution. But the film’s most withering judgments are reserved for the ostensible hero, a coddled coxcomb sure to drown in his own torrent of words, each peroration delivered by Léaud as an aria of noxious narcissism.
March 28, 2017
Read full article
Veronika provides both a sad-eyed moral center and a clear-eyed critique of what she calls Alexandre’s “shitty relationships with women” to this sometimes funny, sometimes wearying, ultimately absorbing and unsettling 220-minute slice of life.
January 13, 2016
Read full article
The film’s greatest accomplishment is its gradual transformation into something much darker and sadder than its seemingly aimless first two hours suggest. Eustache spends so much time and burns so many close-ups surveying the day-to-day delusions of these unfaithful and compulsively hypocritical pleasure-seekers that there’s bound to be an eventual implosion, and when it does come it nearly matches Bergman for toxic soul-baring.
November 27, 2013
Read full article
The Mother and the Whore" is unavailable on DVD anywhere (though it was released on VHS). It’s a fairly simple story… But that simple story runs three hours and forty minutes as it carries the trio through a range of intimate disasters that have the feel and tone of epic clashes.
July 30, 2013
Read full article
Like the nouvelle vague directors before him, Eustache creates a modern and personal style to deal with contemporary and personal issues in a mode that transcends realism and autobiography. In La Maman et la putain this is achieved by using a very poetic and declamatory form of dialogue that works as a counterpoint to the realistic, documentary-like images.
August 27, 2008
Read full article
One of the towering achievements of French cinema, THE MOTHER AND THE WHORE is at once social document, personal confession, and a radical new approach to what movies can do. At three and a half hours, the film has few peers in its handling of duration (it takes place over only a few weeks but depicts mundane events with obsessive detail): To watch it is to immerse yourself in it.
May 23, 2008
Read full article
The Mother and the Whore is a raw, unsentimental, and incisive slice-of-life exposition into the demoralization, deflated euphoria, and pervasive rootlessness of the May 68 generation (a period marked by widespread student protests and worker strikes throughout France) in the wake of the failed counterculture revolution.
January 01, 2004
Read full article
The Mother and the Whore is a great film. It’s great in the disdainful purity of its technique, in the performances of its three leads, and above all in giving a definitive view of the ’70s — a lost time, a time defined by loss. The film is hopeless, but not in a way that makes it obvious why, eight years after making it, Eustache killed himself. It has a negativity and a tension equal to its period.
May 10, 2001
Read full article
The Mother and the Whore is both epic and intimate, ethnographic in its cultural detail and subjective in its exposure of the raw nerves of body and psyche. It’s Eustache’s greatest cinematic achievement, though not his only significant one.
October 31, 2000
Read full article
The fact that the film’s writer-director committed suicide in his early 40s, in 1981, seems only to ratify the film’s bleak portrait not just of where we are today but of who we are. That portrait is so bleak I feel obliged to disapprove of, even to despise it. But its power over me is such that I can’t despise it without despising myself in the bargain. So I have to try to make some peace with it, try to come up with an honest account of what the film is saying to us in the 90s.
January 22, 1999
Read full article
Created in the atmosphere of social breakdown that followed the riots of May ‘68 in France, “The Mother and the Whore” became the film of a generation for its portrayal in dangerously raw, real-time scenes of the irresolvable conflict between utopian ideals of sexual freedom and the concrete reality of human needfulness and possessiveness. [It’s] maddening and brilliant, confessional and slyly evasive, insistently perverse and blissfully naive.
December 12, 1997
Read full article
A major work, not because of its exhausting length (217 minutes) or the audacity, brilliance, and total originality of its language, but because of writer-editor-director Jean Eustache’s breathtaking honesty and accuracy in portraying the sexual and intellectual mores of its era. This 1973 film “explains” Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris, vividly and compellingly dramatizing the confusions, uncertainties, and complexities of thoroughly modern human relationships.
April 11, 1974
Read full article
It is a searing, painful, revealing, egotistical, irritating, often beautiful document that captures, in orgies of sexual gorging and verbal disgorging, the clash, among people of a certain generation and milieu, between Left Bank libertinism and an astonishingly deep conservatism—deep, because it is mystical rather than political, and based on matters of life and death rather than left and right.
April 04, 1974
Read full article