Director: Eric Rohmer
Writer: Eric Rohmer
Cinematographer: Bernard Lutic
Producer: Margaret Ménégoz
by Jon Cvack
I’ve really enjoyed Eric Rohmer’s 80s films thus far, with Pauline at the Beach being the first film I checked out from the series. Boyfriends and Girlfriends is a similarly simple movie, involving a cast of four characters - two girls, Blanche (Emmanuelle Chaulet) and Léa (Sophie Renoir) and two boys, Fabien (Eric Viellard) and Alexandre (François-Eric Gendron). Taking place over a period of a few years, the story’s divided into a series of random and significant moments, often taking place in a single location.
Blanche is new to town, shy, and doesn’t know anyone, soon meeting the charming and beautiful Léa and the two become quick friends. Léa is dating the equally charming and handsome Alexandre, who soon develops an attraction to Blanche, who later develops an attraction to Alexandre, who keeps dating Léa, until she then dumps him, leading Alexandre and Blanche to hook up without telling her; all while the rich, initial douchebag Fabien tries to pursue both women, first ending up with Blanched and leaning more toward Léa, who he ends up with in the end.
At only four characters, the plot never gets all that confusing. If I have anything wrong, it’s simply because I watched the film two weeks ago and the details have grown hazy. The film isn’t about the lies and deceit so much as four characters attempting to navigate their complicated love lives and passions and dealing with all of the ethics that come along with it. It’s about watching the players react, deceive, and struggle to tell those around them the truth. With such a fragmented structure, it allows each scene to build on the next, though never accelerating into melodrama.
The academy frame punches up the geometric shapes often seen in the background - from offices to architecture, even the pier near the lake features sharp angles and shapes. The 80s garb reminds you how few period films today have caught its look. Erich Rohmer is one of the rare filmmakers who graduated perfectly into color; somehow maintaining his voice even if what’s in the frame looks so little like his older work. The guy can be a creep at times, and his movie might just make the Bechdel Test by an inch (even with two women central characters), but what it does explore feels honest and real, as though his style and insight continue to evolve.
BELOW: A nice taste of the fashion
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