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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
[crying about her problems]
I'm forgetting them. I didn't think of them. You talk of showing things... I don't know, I don't have anything. If I had something to show, people would see it, that's all!
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Something new on the screen! The sun shines, the wind blows, the clouds scud but it never rains. The treetops shiver in the melancholy gusts, the people gasp and murmur and gesticulate, and tears run down our heroine's cheeks. Again and again her face contorts as her fragile boat grinds on the rocky bottom.
A frustrated secretary lives for love. When a chance encounter informs her of the green ray, she is enamoured, thinking that this controversial phenomenon will bring the psychic clarity she so needs. She has so little self-esteem that she identifies with everything around her, she is somehow somewhat egoless, a pair of eyes, a pair of ears, a tortured heart. Her frame is delicate, almost skeletal. Fear is eating her soul.
She cannot reciprocate the robust friendship of one group of people due to her delicate vegetarian outlook (which she paradoxically defends with great vigour and the most articulacy she summons in two hours on screen). But she is excluded also due to the delicacy she cannot control (her sea-sickness, her love-sickness...) Wherever she goes, in fact, she cannot make friends. The ski bums of the alps treat her with relaxed cool cordiality but she leaves immediately because, she says, "I know that place". The implication is that she thinks she's leaving because the place is decadent and full of one night stands but that the underlying reality is of her not being able to stomach any reminder of herself. She wants to be reborn with a childlike clarity in the last miraculous light of the dying sun. This emphasises a cycle of small deaths and rebirths - falling into and out of love, leaving home, coming back again, leaving again.
This film is deeply concerned with one person and may seem obsessive, but it's one way of looking at life and has of course many resonances for our self-obsessed selves. Of course we cannot escape from ourselves, though we can expand that self so that it is not so claustrophobic to live in.
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