Review: For Belmondo, Moreau, and French Cinema Fans, 'Seven Days... Seven Nights' is a Must

by Frank J. Avella

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday September 28, 2021

The great Jean-Paul Belmondo died early this month, but he left a staggeringly expansive cinematic legacy. In 1960, the same year Jean-Luc Godard's seminal "Breathless" would catapult Belmondo to international fame, he shot a quiet, yet beguiling, drama co-starring another up-and-coming French artist who would go onto to become a screen legend, Jeanne Moreau. The film was "Seven Days... Seven Nights" (aka: "Moderato cantabile") and Moreau would win the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress for her performance.

Based on the novel by Marguerite Duras ("Hiroshima Mon Amour") and directed by Peter Brook ("Marat/Sade"), the film, set in a small coastal French town, centers on Anne (Moreau) the bored, slightly unhinged housewife of a rich factory owner that employs the town. One day, while at a piano lesson with her young son, Pierre (Dider Haudepin), she hears a piercing scream. Rushing outside, she learns a man has murdered his girlfriend at a nearby café. Hanging around the crime scene is factory worker Chauvin (Belmondo), whom she meets a few days later when she decides to go into the bar to have a glass or four of wine. A few days after that he follows (stalks) her, much to her delight. So begins a strange and entrancing affair between our two protags.

Belmondo and Moreau have terrific chemistry, and the film succeeds because both actors are fully committed to their characters and the bizarre connection they share.

The screenplay, by Duras and Gérard Jarlot, is slight, and Brook, a renowned stage director who only helmed 13 films, goes a bit overboard on atmosphere.

Some interesting casting tidbits: Producer Raoul Levy wanted Simone Signoret for the lead, but Brook and Duras insisted on Moreau and got their way. Richard Burton was originally cast as Chauvin, but that fell through. Burton blamed the French unions.

The Kino Lorber Blu-ray transfer is from a new restoration and looks magnificent, preserving the lush black and white cinematography by Armand Thirard (the film was shot in Cinemascope). The sound is clear.

The lone extra is an audio commentary by historian Daniel Kremer, who delves into all aspects of the film, including Brook's technique, with great enthusiasm.

For Belmondo fans, Moreau fans, and/or French cinema fans, "Seven Days... Seven Nights" ("Moderato cantabile") is a must.

Blu-ray Extras Include:

  • New Audio Commentary by Filmmaker/Historian Daniel Kremer
  • Trailers

    "Seven Days... Seven Nights" is available on Blu-ray on September 28.

    Frank J. Avella is a film and theatre journalist and is thrilled to be writing for EDGE. He also contributes to Awards Daily and is the GALECA East Coast Rep. Frank is a recipient of a 2019 International Writers Retreat Residency at Arte Studio Ginestrelle (Assisi, Italy), a 2018 Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship, a 2016 Helene Wurlitzer Residency Grant and a 2015 NJ State Arts Council Fellowship Award. He is an award-winning screenwriter and playwright (CONSENT, LURED, SCREW THE COW, FIG JAM, VATICAN FALLS) and a proud member of the Dramatists Guild.