This is one of Rohmer`s most famous films, though it`s far from his best. Look to his four Tales of the Seasons, The Green Ray, or My Night With Maud for something more substantial. But it is still the filmic equivalent of a short story, albeit a very talky one, by Maupassant or Colette, or even Moravia.
Jean-Claude Brialy (who looks like he`s auditioning for the part of, say, Burt Reynolds, such is his mass of hair as well as vast beard) plays Jerome, a man on the cusp of marriage to his Swedish fiancee, on holiday by a huge lake in the mountains. He talks with his old friend Aurora, a novelist (played by Aurora Cornu, a real novelist, who seems uneasy with the camera) who between them hatch a seemingly harmless plot for her next story, to involve his flirting with Laura, the daughter of a friend staying nearby. The daughter is played by Rohmer regular Beatrice Romand, who was only about sixteen at the time, and who proved even then what an idiosyncratic actress she is, a little like our own Anna Massey in looks and style, with her careful articulation and mischievous, expressive eyes.
All goes to plan until he meets Laura`s half-sister Claire, whose knees, with their expanse of mini-skirted leg on show, entrance him...
The rest of this relatively slight film is a little less interesting, perhaps partly due to a rather colourless performance from the actress playing Claire, but also because of the lack of sympathy one can`t help feeling for the smooth, implausibly hirsute central character.
If I seem to be less than impressed, it is only because I love the films of this director so reserve the right to be critical of his lesser efforts. This is still a film well worth seeing, especially if it leads you to seek out his many other films, some of which linger long in the mind like a perfect day at the beach, a bittersweet love affair, or a glass of chilled wine on a summer day.
There`s an extra Special Feature with this DVD, a delightful, light-hearted short called La Cambrure (The Curve) from 1999 directed by and featuring Edwige Shaki as a young woman whose titular curves so inspire a young artist that they get talking and quickly move in together. She spends most of this brief film semi-naked in the most charming, gently erotic series of `poses` as she attempts to show her beau that she refuses to be objectified. It`s an enticing directorial and acting debut by Shaki, who went on to appear in just one of Rohmer`s own later films. One would like it to be longer - which I dearly wish I could say for the main feature.