Pauline at the Beach (Pauline à la plage)  [DVD]
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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).
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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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The simple story is interesting enough but presented by actors and dialogue more befitting an entirely amateur troupe. Read morePublished 6 months ago by philip1805
This little gem could be re-titled The Game of Love and Chance (Le Jeu de l’amour et du hazard) after the Enlightenment play by Pierre de Marivaux in its depiction of a group of... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Film Buff
A summer vacation on the Normandy Coast becomes an eye-opening lesson in the pleasures and pitfalls of romance for 15-year-old Pauline(Amanda Langlet), as she and her beautiful... Read morePublished on 9 Oct. 2013 by technoguy
I could watch the films of Eric Rohmer till les vaches come home.
This one is a sly charmer from 1982 concerning the teenage Pauline, who is on holiday on the Normandy coast... Read more
"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. Read morePublished on 16 Aug. 2006 by B. Alcat