Le Bonheur (1965 film)

Le Bonheur ("Happiness") is a 1965 French drama film directed by Agnès Varda.[1][2] The film is associated with the French New Wave and won two awards at the 15th Berlin International Film Festival, including the Jury Grand Prix.[3]

Le Bonheur
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAgnès Varda
Produced byMag Bodard
Written byAgnès Varda
StarringJean-Claude Drouot
Claire Drouot
Music byJean-Michel Defaye
CinematographyClaude Beausoleil
Jean Rabier
Edited byJanine Verneau
Distributed byColumbia
Release date
  • 2 January 1965 (1965-01-02)
Running time
80 minutes


François, a young carpenter working for his uncle, lives a comfortable and happy life married to his wife Thérèse, with whom he has two seemingly perfect children, Pierrot and Gisou.[4] Although finding abundant "le bonheur" (happiness) in his marriage and indisputably loving his wife and children, François covetously pursues an extended happiness through an affair with a woman called Émilie whom he meets on a business trip.[5][4] Émilie knows of and skeptically asks François about his marriage; he soothes her with charming words and continues in his infidelity.[4] Finding love with Émilie in the afternoon and with Thérèse at night, François’ wife questions him on a family day trip about the new level of happiness that he has experienced lately and which she has noticed.[4] Finding himself unable to lie to his wife, François tells Thérèse the truth about his affair, but assures her that there is "more than enough happiness to go around, nothing has changed between them."[4] Thérèse is found dead shortly after hearing the news of her husband’s infidelity, news that essentially shattered her very character, which is defined by her ability to feed her husband’s happiness.[4] Left a widower, François responds with a short period of mourning followed by a continued pursuit of Émilie, who gladly becomes his wife and the mother of his children.[4][5] In completing his family with Émilie as a replacement for his late wife Thérèse, François’ life embodies a spirit of "le bonheur" once again despite his break with morality.

Historical context

Le Bonheur was released prior to significant social unrest in of France which peaked in May 1968 and that threatened to overthrow the decade old Fifth Republic.[6] This film contains many feminist elements that reflect the movements that were taking place among women during that time.


François' wife and children are played by Jean-Claude Drouot's real-life family in their only film appearances[4].


  1. "Le Bonheur / Happiness". unifrance.org. Retrieved 2014-02-21.
  2. Weiler, A. H. (14 May 1966) "'Le Bonheur' at the Fine Arts:A Moving but Immature Treatment of Love Agnes Varda Chooses a Renoir Background." The New York Times. Retrieved on 15 May 2009.
  3. "Berlinale 1965: Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2010-02-21.
  4. Taubin, Amy. "Le bonheur: Splendor in the Grass". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  5. Weiler, A.E. ""Le Bonheur" (1965)". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  6. "Charles de Gaulle". Biography.com. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
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