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Frédéric van den Driessche,
Delphine's traveling companion cancels two weeks before her holiday, so Delphine, a Parisian secretary, is at loose ends. She doesn't want to travel by herself, but has no boyfriend and seems unable to meet new people. A friend takes her to Cherbourg; after a few days there, the weepy and self-pitying Delphine goes back to Paris. She tries the Alps, but returns the same day. Next, it's the beach: once there, she chats with an outgoing Swede, a party girl, and a friendship seems to bud; then, suddenly, Delphine bolts, heading back to Paris. As she waits at the Biarritz train station, a young man catches her eye; perhaps a sunset and the sun's green ray await. Written by
The craving for solitude and the unbearable loneliness that comes with it
It is not unreasonable to say that Rohmer's films are without par. No director has ever come close to his exquisite and acute observations of the human psyche, and so Rohmer's films are probably only comparable to each other. I find that the more films of his that I watch, the more I am able to see each film clearer. It is no wonder that out of the directors that emerged from the French New Wave, only Rohmer has been able to sustain critical acclaim for his films consistently.
Many detractors find fault with his style -- there is little or no music, the plot is only a very very rough skeleton of what actually goes on in his films (as it takes a backseat to exploring the psychology of his characters), there are many moments of silence, and those moments of dialog are mostly ramblings about philosophy, love, and life instead of plot advancement. Well, I find it quite difficult to articulate the charm of his movies too, since he isn't particularly flashy in his writing or his direction.
His films are largely introspective, drawing us in to view the character's psyche instead of the events that happen to him, as such his films are always introverted and quiet, where it seems nothing much happens. At first glance, the lead characters of his films seem to be all from the same mold: gloomy, quiet people who are extremely prone to making fickle choices and outbursts of emotion. But the more Rohmer you see, the more likely you'd be to distinguish a pattern among them and their distinctive traits in his characters.
They are always caught in a 'limbo' for lack of a better word, usually either caught between two choices that may tear their lives apart or make them better, or caught between two emotions that are pulling them in totally different directions. They are often afraid to take the leap, take the risk in deciding which point of action to make, and thus the films largely comprise of them searching for themselves, their identities, their desires and their wishes. They are as equally clueless about themselves as we are about them initially, and so it is folly to attempt to analyze them at the beginning. And as the film progresses, they learn more about themselves and perhaps we might learn a little more about ourselves too after we have gone through the same emotions and internal struggles with them.
That every lead has a distinctive trait is what separates his movies from each other. Each one of them is stuck, and exemplifies the different nuances of our struggles, and so they might all appear gloomy but they vary in their intents and sentiments. In The Green Ray in particular, the lead character is torn between the craving for solitude, and the unbearable loneliness that comes with it. To say I relate to it probably cheapens the film to a certain extent, but it is the best I can say with Rohmer's films. They portray a small corner in our lives that we have been before, that it is impossible to say any less. The fact that he is able to take each corner of our lives (and its accompanying mood) and blow it up on the big screen into a full-length feature film that is neither didactic nor ever fully reassuring, shows the mastery of his craft. Like us, he is unsure and searching, and he portrays that in his films beautifully.
All of his oeuvre is definitely worth watching, (save for the god-awful La Collectioneuse, one can only assume that he was going through a shitty state of mind when he was making that pretentious junk), and the best thing about Rohmer is the more films you see of him, the more you see in his films. The reason why I singled out The Green Ray (or Summer on the US DVD), is because of its brilliant lead actress Marie Riviere, which is not only immediately likable, but also painfully personal. Her journey is one that I can slip on comfortably anytime, with an ending that is equally sublime as it is magical. I don't want to spoil it for anyone who is intending to pick this up, but let's just say that it is probably one of the greatest moments of cinema that I have witnessed in my short life. To be able to capture it with such beauty and in such a context, not only offers a respite from the turmoil that we (the lead character and I) have gone through, but also a hope of self-discovery and awareness, makes this gem a great slice of cinema.
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