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Pauline at the Beach (Pauline à la plage) [1983] [DVD]

4.3 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Amanda Langlet, Arielle Dombasle, Pascal Greggory
  • Directors: Eric Rohmer
  • Format: PAL, Full Screen, Dolby, Digital Sound, Subtitled
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Arrow
  • DVD Release Date: 12 July 2004
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00028HC56
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 97,949 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

The third in French director Eric Rohmer's 'Comedies et Proverbes' cycle of films, this is a subtle, sun-drenched comedy about entwined holiday romances and the inconsistency and complexity of human relationships. Marion (Arielle Dombasle), a beautiful divorcée, decides to spend the last few weeks of summer at the family beach house in Normandy. She takes along her fifteen-year-old cousin Pauline (Amanda Langlet), a sensitive and fragile girl on the verge of womanhood. At the beach the two meet up with Pierre (Pascal Greggory), Marion's humourless and obsessive ex-lover, who offers to teach them windsurfing and introduces them to his friend Henri (Féodor Atkine). Marion soon falls for Henri, despite Pierre declaring his love for her. Meanwhile, Pauline has quietly become involved with teenage Sylvain (Simon de la Brosse).

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
"Pauline At The Beach" (1983) is an interesting film that you are likely to enjoy, even if you are not one of Eric Rohmer's fans. If you are already an admirer, though, you will simply love this movie, due to the fact that it displays the reason why Rohmer is such a respected director.

Before talking about this film, a short introduction to Rohmer for those that are not familiar with him is in order. Rohmer (Jean Marie Maurice Schérer, born in 1920 in France) is part of "La Nouvelle Vague" (= "The new wave"), a movement that says that the director is an "author" and that as such, his personal signature is evident in his work. Among the most well-known films of this French director, there is a cycle of films called "Six Moral Tales", a series called "Comedies and Proverbs" (in which each film is based on a different proverb), and a third series entitled "Tales of the Four Seasons".

"Pauline At The Beach" (= "Pauline à la plage"») is the third film in the "Comedies and Proverbs" series, and the proverb around which it is centered is "Qui trop parole, il se mesfait". The plot is not difficult to follow, but it is interesting, specially if you pay close attention to the dialogues among the characters, a Rohmer trademark.

The main character is Pauline (Amanda Langlet), a young teenager that goes to the beach with Marion (Arielle Dombasle), a relative that has divorced recently and is ready for something new, in other words an affair. Pierre (Pascal Greggory), an old acquaintance and Henri (Feodor Atkine), a newcomer, vie for Marion's attention. Pauline thinks that Pierre is the right one for her cousin, but Marion has other ideas, preferring Henri.
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Format: DVD
In some ways, Rohmer is like a French version of Woody Allen in his Bergmanesque period. His films tend to be gently theatrical, and his characters pontificate on the nature of love and life, yet the results are almost always compelling to watch. The plots, such as they are, tend to be bittersweet - nearly but not quite romantic dramas. At times they appear like sex comedies, but that would not be a complete description - the sex is almost incidental to the main themes, as it is here.
What makes them stand out is the beautiful and subtle way Rohmer has crafted the cinematic experience. Unlike most modern films, the director does not pander to his audience through simplistic debates of good vs evil, but instead uses emotions to illustrate the motivation of his characters. He uses a full palate of shades and hues to demonstrate the paradoxes, complexities and confusions that occur in real life. And the double-crossing, infidelity and lies, of course.
Pauline sur la plage is typical. One of his Comedies and Proverbs series, it shows 15-year old Pauline staying for a holiday at the beach in Britanny with her cousin, Marion, who is about to divorce. And Pauline's naive views about love are challenged by their time together. They meet Marion's friend and former lover Pierre, and also Pierre's peripatetic friend Henri. Marion rejects Pierre and falls for Henri, and also rejects his advice that Henri is "diabolical". But an act of betrayal by Henri implicates Pauline's friend Sylvain and threatens all the relationships. Rohmer conducts the emotional angst as if he were conducting an orchestra. The hurt is raw, yet the final denouement is not unhappy. The director leaves Pauline - and us - with a fine balance between the philosophies of Henri and Marion, a dilemma unresolved yet richly satisfying. You wonder how Pauline decides between the two paths, but somehow it would spoil the illusion to find out.
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Pauline At The Beach is an intricately plotted film whose biggest pleasure is perhaps the way the story becomes so complicated; it's a bit like a knot that unties itself at the end leaving the piece of string as it was at the beginning, with just a few kinks even so. 15-year-old Pauline has certainly learnt something about human nature, which is the basis of the film, you might say. It is also slyly comic, her older cousin Marion being theatrical, superficially bright, and frankly a bit of a bimbo. She thinks she is so much leading the game, when really she is the one who in the end learns nothing, perhaps because she has completely outwitted suffering. We like her nevertheless, because her gestures and manner are often comical, right from the opening meeting on the beach with her old flame Pierre and new love prospect Henri. She is ludicrously camp and self-dramatising right from the off, to hilarious effect. It is one of Rohmer's most famous films, and is very typical, but to my mind doesn't quite match the very best, mainly because love is absent - unless one counts Pierre, who loves but is miserable - and also because the motor for the plot is a middle-aged libertine of little moral interest. The pattern is, in that sense, similar to Claire's Knee - for me at least, his films focusing more on younger characters are often more engaging; either that, or where the heart itself is more sizeably bound by the intricacies of the plot. Nevertheless it is a classic, and quite unique in tone and plot combined. The script could hardly be tighter, while seeming as if the discussions are as meandering as a rivulet in the sand.
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