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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 international title - "The Green Ray" - refers to a natural phenomenon of a flash of green light sometimes seen on the horizon as the sun sets. As such, it is an unobtainable thing, much like the pursuit of happiness for this film's lead character. (It is also a novel by Jules Verne which is referenced in the film.) Eric Rohmer tried unsuccessfully to film this natural wonder and was forced to recreate it through special effects. See more »
I thoroughly enjoyed Le Rayon Vert. It showed "real" people, people that I felt I could relate to. This effect was achieved through improvisatory conversations and at points an almost documentary-style film-making technique, with the camera zooming in with mood changes or if something interesting is said (though make no mistake the framing and composition are very carefully controlled).
It's a character study of a lonely Parisienne secretary called Delphine, she is meant to be going off on holiday with a friend, but he cancels at short notice, so she has a dreaded improvised holiday.
What follows is an anatomy of loneliness, a description of the reasons why Delphine is lonely. It's strange to me because the film seemed to be positing two types of understanding, firstly there is fatalistic, bordering on mystic: Delphine is a Capricorn, as the lady at the outdoor dinner says, a goat climbing up a mountain alone. Her destiny seems to be written on cards she finds in the street, she's perhaps portrayed as not being capable of being anything different than what she is, a lonely introvert.
But then on the other hand the film is supposedly instructive, with a moral, and we have people trying to tell Delphine how to engage with life, for example a very outgoing Swedish tourist, and perhaps Delphine is engaging at the end of the film, or on the other hand she has merely been blown by the wind and allowed herself to be picked up a more promising candidate than previously she has met (there are a number of failed attempts to pick her up during the movie).
The movie is visually beautiful, I just love seeing movies shot in 4:3 these days. If you're dealing with human beings, my opinion is that you should be in 4:3, it's essentially portraiture. If you're shooting the Rio Grande or any other large spaces, then go with widescreen. There's some lovely shots of Delphine in the verdancy of nature, when Delphine and the little girl are eating wild blackcurrants (I felt like a child again seeing this, I could taste the blackcurrants), also of a very strange narrow green avenue Delphine goes down in the countryside. Then there's the colours, the red on the clothes that the characters are wearing (Delphine wears red but is searching for green, a contradiction), and little splashes of green all over the place punctuating the compositions. On the topic of Delphine being a walking contradiction, Delphine describes herself as not operating or not functional, like a normal person and then says, "I never do anything special to find someone or something". I always describe myself a bit like that, like a hungry dog that has lost the instinct to bite.
She's much like myself in many ways, when she's talking to the Swede they have a conversation about romantic encounters being a card game, Delphine says she has no cards, she just is exactly what you see, absolutely no coquetry is involved. Well that's me as well. She's really gauche in conversations, the vegetarianism discussion was a great example. I'm also an enthusiast concerning ideals and I love to talk about them given half a chance, but, for example discussing, in the manner of a dog with a bone, how meat-eating is unconscionable, at a table of carnivores, is not very tactful. I often behave like this.
The scene with the blackcurrants is perhaps the most painful, Delphine is staying in Cherbourg with the family of a friend, as a little girl asks her innocent questions about her life, and Delphine's unsocialised paranoia takes over and she wants to know who has put the girl up to asking.
It's a superb movie and it makes me want to see more Rohmer.
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