by Jon Cvack
Director: Erich Rohmer
Writer: Erich Rohmer
Cinematographer: Daniel Lacambre
Two college men play their way across the Parisian single scene. One of them, Guillaume, meets Suzanne, who is traditionally unattractive. He sleeps with her, grows embarrassed, and dumps her. Then the other friend, Bertrand, is approached by Suzanne. A love triangle takes place. Guillaume regrets ditching Suzanne, who is now attracted to his friend.
The film plays like a documentary, with many of the shots stolen on the Parisian streets. Similar to other his immediate predecessors it was pieced together with short ends of film (see Rossellini’s Rome, Open City). They could only afford single takes. The sound was added long after and Rohmer had to essentially lip read the performances in order to add the track since he had no script. Aside from the glimpse into 60s Parisian life, the tale is pretty bland. It feels as though it was made by a graduate student, but Rohmer was in his early 30s at the time. He said he had gotten into film late so perhaps it was excusable.
Many of his films at the time were based on short stories he had written. His philosophy was that short stories make the best feature films. After watching the first tale (The Bakery Girl of Monceau, Presentation, or Charlotte and Her Steak) I can’t help viewing Rohmer as rather misogynistic. In all three of these films there is a man who committed to sexual conquests. He doesn’t care about a connection. He doesn’t care about who these women are. He just wants to get laid and is willing to put on any face or front that will get the job done. I’m all for an author working out his own personal demons through story. I just didn’t see any redemption. He either fails or succeeds, pushes the comfort zone of all these women, and tries to express regret over the decision.
Thoughts on films, old and new
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