Eric Rohmer's films have few characters, usually concentrating on a single human drama dissected in minute detail. But all the introspection is very human, it brings out the anguish, there is nothing cerebral about his films. His highly intelligent dialogue enables actors to submerge themselves in their characters bringing them intensely alive. Rohmer maintains visual interest with fine street and café locations around Paris, and eschews background music.
AVIATORS WIFE (1981) - the first or Rohmer's series on "Comedies and Proverbs" is one day in the life of Anne (Marie Riviere) single and twenty five pining over a failed love affair and ambivalent about her twenty year old student boyfriend Francoise (Philippe Marlaud) who believes she is cheating on him.
The aviator is Christian (Mathieu Carriere) and his wife is an absent role. Christian calls on Anne to tell her their affair is finally over and is seen leaving by Francoise.
LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON (1972) - Frederic (Bernard Verley) is contentedly married to the cool but affectionate Helene (Francoise Verley) and likes her that way. He is a man that finds companionship in the midst of a crowd, say on a bus train or street, likes feeling an anonymous part of an anonymous whole. In company he likes reading, even of an evening with his wife. He likes to imagine affairs with women he passes in the street, feeling safe in the knowledge that nothing can happen.
Then suddenly the tantalising Chloe (Zouzou), the lover of a past friend, comes back into his life tempting him into a tentative affair making Frederic examine his life.
FULL MOON IN PARIS (1984) - Love is not the problem where Louise (Pascale Ogier) and Remi (Tcheky Karyo) are concerned, it is a fundamental incompatibility, he likes sport and staying at home of an evening, whilst Louise enjoys parties and society. Remi is also possessive and in order to provide herself with the space she needs Louise spends nights at her old flat in Paris. Drawn into her problems are Octave (Fabrice Luchini) a male friend, and Camille (Virginie Thevenet) that Louise encourages to have an affair with Remi.
Tragically Pascale Ogier who won a Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival for her performance died of a heart attack at the age of 26 soon after completing the film.
PAULINE AT THE BEACH (1983) -. In superbly famed wide angle cinematography and figures moving within the wide expanses Rohmer wonderfully captures the aimless break from real life that is the seaside holiday.
The film is shot from the point of view of the naïve but clear sighted fifteen year old Pauline very well played by Amanda Langlet. Pauline observes her divorced cousin Marion (Arielle Dombasle) delude herself she has realised her fantasy of an unrealistically intense love in the amiable but detached womaniser Henri (Feodor Atkine). Whilst Pierre an ex lover Marion now regards as a friend and confidante deludes himself that one day she will return his jealous and enduring love for her.
A GOOD MARRIAGE (1982) - Sabine (Beatrice Romand) decides to part from her married boy friend and marry. Immediately she rushes off to her best friend Clarisse (Arielle Dombasle) and they decide to set her sights on Clarisse cousin Edmond whose signals are confusing. Although beautifully filmed in the historic town of Le Mans full of lovely stone buildings, just for once Rohmer's plot seems just that bit too contrived, Sabine is a convincing impetuous young woman but she deludes herself too easily.
MARQUISE OF O (1976) - this is a beautifully costumed film with superb cinematography, and lovely interior sets. The story is set in 1799 and if you can appreciate the stilted dialogue and stylised acting emulating stage performances of that period, it is a superb film. Many people consider this film a masterpiece, but accustomed to modern performance techniques I found the film ponderous and slow, the acting exaggerated and unnatural.
MY GIRLFRIENDS BOYFRIEND (1987) - this film seems less intense than Rohmer's normal dramas, but this is only on the surface, it is in the nature of the characters who are developed with all his usual skill. Blanche (Emanuelle Chaulet) is intelligent, articulate except that with men she fancies she clams up. A chance meeting with Lea (Sophie Renoir) leads to a close friendship, and she becomes friendly with Lea's boyfriend Fabien (Eric Viellard) whilst fancying Alexandre (Francois-Eric Gendron). Lea and Fabien's relationship is deteriorating and when Lea visits relations and leaves them together Blanche finds she can talk to Fabien, because he is a friend?
THE GREEN RAY (1986) - Delphine (Marie Riviere) is an emotionally detached woman who has been engaged to Jean Pierre who works abroad (he never appears in the film) for two years and lives on her own. At the last minute her girl friend pulls out of their trip to Greece leaving Delphine on her own during a six week summer holiday. The shock focuses Delphine's mind on her loneliness and the film follows her gradual disintegration into depression. This is superbly acted and directed and psychologically accurate. Delphine is not a character we warm to, in fact she would infuriate me in real life with her long rambling monologues as her loneliness gradually erodes her ability to communicate.
Probably the best film in a superb DVD set, but may not be to everyone's taste.
FINAL COMMENT - This is a very nicely presented boxed set, there are a lot of extras mainly interviews and comments by Eric Rohmer, two shorts from early in his career, however the promised four page booklet was missing from my set.