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Love In The Afternoon (1972) Review


Good
The finale of Eric Rohmer's "moral tales," a six-part filmed essay on modern morality. Unfortunately, Love is distinguished by little more than the tepid non-choice presented by its milquetoast hero (lovely Chloe (Zouzou) tries to seduce the otherwise happily married man) and some of the worst lighting ever to sour a film (though this has thankfully been repaired in Criterion's new DVD release). The self-obsessed running commentary of Frédéric (Bernard Verley) isn't so much a bore as it is simply conceited, but there's something deep here as he wrestles with whether he should give in toe Chloe's advances or return home to his loving (though boring) wife. At least as moral quandaries go, Love has one worth pondering. And if you feel otherwise, you can at least groove on the 1970s fashions.

For more discussion of the "six moral tales," see the review of My Night at Maud's.

Continue reading: Love In The Afternoon (1972) Review

Love In The Afternoon Review


Good
The finale of Eric Rohmer's "moral tales," a six-part filmed essay on modern morality. Unfortunately, Love is distinguished by little more than the tepid non-choice presented by its milquetoast hero (lovely Chloe (Zouzou) tries to seduce the otherwise happily married man) and some of the worst lighting ever to sour a film (though this has thankfully been repaired in Criterion's new DVD release). The self-obsessed running commentary of Frédéric (Bernard Verley) isn't so much a bore as it is simply conceited, but there's something deep here as he wrestles with whether he should give in toe Chloe's advances or return home to his loving (though boring) wife. At least as moral quandaries go, Love has one worth pondering. And if you feel otherwise, you can at least groove on the 1970s fashions.

For more discussion of the "six moral tales," see the review of My Night at Maud's.

Continue reading: Love In The Afternoon Review

Claire's Knee Review


Weak
Lechery in the guise of art, and what could be more fun? Eric Rohmer's fifth "moral tale" tells us of a man obsessed with nubile young girls, particularly a young blonde's... well, you guessed it. Our hero is about to get married, you see, and he just doesn't feel ready to go through with it. So he chats up a couple of young girls, including the titular Claire, who doesn't show up until 47 minutes into the film. Eventually he gets to touch her leg. This is the only flat-out repulsive moral tale and the only one that doesn't really make much sense. Claire's Knee purports to be about love but comes across as little more than infantile.

For more discussion of the "six moral tales," see the review of My Night at Maud's.

Continue reading: Claire's Knee Review

My Night At Maud's Review


OK
Every cineaste knows that Eric Rohmer made a series of films called the "six moral tales," but I'd wager that virtually no one has seen them all. Most knowledge of the tales begins with this, the third film in the series (which was inexplicably filmed fourth), and tragically by then they've already started a prodigiously deep decline into preachy bloviating and repetitiveness.

I realize I should expect a good amount of hate mail for panning a "classic," but here goes anyway. See if you think this sounds like a good way to spend two hours: Devout Catholic Jean-Louis (Jean-Louis Trintignant) decides that he's going to marry Françoise, a blonde girl he sees at mass but whom he's never actually met. After half an hour of wandering around their small town, he ends up going with his pal Vidal to the home of Maud (Françoise Fabian), a divorcee with a young child who's actually interested in listening to Jean-Louis drone on and on about his moral choices, only for him to throw them to the winds when he decides to jump into bed with Maud, mere minutes after exclaiming he'd never do such a thing.

Continue reading: My Night At Maud's Review

Claire's Knee Review


Weak
Lechery in the guise of art, and what could be more fun? Eric Rohmer's fifth Moral Tale tells us of a man obsessed with nubile young girls, particularly a young blonde's... well, you guessed it. Our hero is about to get married, you see, and he just doesn't feel ready to go through with it. Somewhere between insulting and repulsive, Claire's Knee purports to be about love but comes across as little more than infantile.

Continue reading: Claire's Knee Review

Summer Review


Bad
Eric Rohmer has never been one for getting to the point. In Summer, the listless Delphine (Marie Rivière) wanders through a summer of abortive romances and holidays, looking for love all over France. How do we know it's summer? Because title cards tell us of every single day that passes. Eventually she goes home, lonely and unfulfilled. Stay awake through this 90-minute exercise in conceitedness (which presumably tells us how the modern world makes us all sad and pathetic) and you'll be rewarded with... well, with nothing. Congrats, more meaningless cinema under your belt.

Continue reading: Summer Review

Chloe In The Afternoon Review


Weak
The finale of Eric Rohmer's "Moral Tales," a six-part filmed essay on modern morality. Unfortunately, Chloe is distinguished by little more than the tepid non-choice presented by its milquetoast hero (lovely Chloe (Zouzou) tries to seduce the otherwise happily married man) and some of the worst lighting ever to sour a film. Especially a French film. The self-obsessed running commentary of Frédéric (Bernard Verley) isn't so much a bore as it is simply conceited. Oh, and the 1970s fashions are difficult to look at -- even if they're out of focus and hard to make out in the dark.

Continue reading: Chloe In The Afternoon Review

Autumn Tale Review


Good
One thing is certain: French people love to talk. Eric Rohmer's latest installment of the Tale series is very French -- dragging on endlessly before finally delving into what ultimately becomes the thinnest of plots -- a 45-year-old female winemaker longs for a man, and her friend sets her up with a guy by placing a personal ad for her (and without her knowledge). Ooooh, the scandal! Light and fluffy, Autumn Tale is a pleasant diversion worthy of its tepid title.

Continue reading: Autumn Tale Review

The Lady And The Duke Review


Excellent
"Through a spyglass, I could see everything." King Louis XVI was beheaded on January 21, 1793, but instead of visualizing this act of regicide, legendary auteur Eric Rohmer's The Lady and the Duke observes from afar. Consider it a view to a kill made abstract. A proper British (yes, British) gentlewoman, Grace Elliott (Lucy Russell), and her loyal maidservant gaze from a lofty terrace in Meudon at the glistening city of Paris, where raucous crowds seem tinier than ants. The maid narrates what little she sees of the execution through her telescope (often muttering, "I don't know,") as the sound of cheering patriots and revolutionaries echoes through the air. What we don't see might not be able to hurt us. Just close your eyes and think of England.

During times of revolution, the aristocracy may feel a false sense of calm in their parlor halls, discussing tumultuous events over glasses of sherry until the walls cave in on them. Adapted from Elliott's memoirs, Journal of My Life During the French Revolution, Rohmer's latest artistic tour-de-force may seem far removed from his domestic comedies (Tales of the Four Seasons, etc.), a period film set during the most violent changes in French history. Resisting the temptation for grand-scale theatrics, much of The Lady and the Duke is about quiet, decisive moments between members of the cultural elite as they determine how to proceed as the world implodes.

Continue reading: The Lady And The Duke Review

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The Lady and the Duke Movie Review

The Lady and the Duke Movie Review

"Through a spyglass, I could see everything." King Louis XVI was beheaded on January...

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