Nelly and Mr. Arnaud

Nelly and Mr. Arnaud (French: Nelly et Monsieur Arnaud) is a 1995 French film directed by Claude Sautet and starring Michel Serrault, Emmanuelle Béart and Jean-Hugues Anglade. It won the César Award for Best Director and Best Actor for Michel Serrault.

Nelly and Mr. Arnaud
Film poster
Directed byClaude Sautet
Produced byAntoine Gannagé
Alain Sarde
Written byJacques Fieschi
Claude Sautet
Yves Ulmann
StarringEmmanuelle Béart
Michel Serrault
Jean-Hugues Anglade
Music byPhilippe Sarde
CinematographyJean-François Robin
Edited byJacqueline Thiédot
Distributed byBAC Films (France)
Release date
  • 18 October 1995 (1995-10-18) (France)
Running time
106 minutes
Budget$9 million
Box office$19.5 million[1]


Nelly (Béart) is married to Jerôme (Berling), a man who is unemployed and has stopped searching for work. Nelly was made redundant from her publishing job and now just has odd jobs at a printing shop and a bakery, so has fallen six months behind on the rent for their apartment. Talking with her friend Jacqueline (Nadeau) at a coffee shop, she encounters Pierre Arnaud, a wealthy, retired businessman who had a languid affair with Jacqueline in the past and who had seen Nelly in the past at one of Jacqueline's parties. After discovering Nelly is in debt, Arnaud offers to give Nelly 30,000 francs as a gift. Nelly reluctantly accepts, pays her overdue rent and then leaves her husband and moves out.

Nelly agrees to type Arnaud's memoirs, but he insists this will not be to repay the gift; he will pay her. Working at Arnaud's apartment, Nelly learns Arnaud was a judge in a colony, and later a businessman; he is separated from his wife and estranged from his two children.

Nelly has an affair with Vincent (Anglade), Arnaud's editor. Arnaud feels jealous although his exact feelings for the much younger Nelly never become entirely clear. Vincent rents a new apartment and then asks Nelly to move in. She refuses and breaks up with him, telling him she doesn't want a long term relationship.

She continues working for Arnaud until his wife Lucie (Brion) returns from Geneva for a few days after her companion dies suddenly. Nelly comes to work one morning and finds Arnaud and Lucie with their bags packed about to leave. Arnaud tells Nelly that he and his wife have decided to take a long round the world trip that they always had dreamed. The film ends with Arnaud at the airport looking wistful and uncertain, and with Nelly bringing Arnaud's manuscript to Vincent's office where she is sure to see her former lover.


Critical response

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 95% based on reviews from 22 critics.

Awards and nominations

  • BAFTA Awards (UK)
    • Nominated: Best Film not in the English Language
  • César Awards (France)
    • Won: Best Actor Leading Role (Michel Serrault)
    • Won: Best Director (Claude Sautet)
    • Nominated: Best Actor Supporting Role (Jean-Hugues Anglade)
    • Nominated: Best Actor Supporting Role (Michael Lonsdale)
    • Nominated: Best Actress Leading Role (Emmanuelle Béart)
    • Nominated: Best Actress Supporting Role (Claire Nadeau)
    • Nominated: Best Editing (Jacqueline Thiédot)
    • Nominated: Best Film
    • Nominated: Best Music (Philippe Sarde
    • Nominated: Best Sound (Pierre Lenoir and Jean-Paul Loublier)
    • Nominated: Best Writing (Jacques Fieschi and Claude Sautet)
  • David di Donatello Awards (Italy)
    • Won: Best Foreign Film
  • Valladolid Film Festival
  • Won: Louis Delluc Prize


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