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|Index||15 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The two poles of my cinematic world are Greenaway and Rohmer. At the Greenaway end, the images are lush and overloaded. The story is deeply self-reflexive. Everything is saturated with intent. The world created is special, otherworldly.
And then there is Rohmer. The story here is arbitrary, one might as well tour a zoo or go on a shopping trip. The images and actor's impression is wholly unremarkable, invisible by design. The camera is as unpretentious as possible, and with study, one can see some significant effort went into this apparent effortlessness. The whole point with Greenaway is to create a skin around his work with paths into the interior.
The opposite is the case with Rohmer. He places his world squarely in the ordinary one you inhabit. Everything by its unremarkable nature points outward. All the meaning in this film comes not from the film, but from the world we live in with the film providing paths from itself to us.
Rohmer is all about framing -- framing in such a way that the picture is ostensibly framed, but actually everything _but_ the film is framed. So we have films that are parts of cycles, larger sets. Each set refers to something that exists beyond art and life: proverbs or seasons or such. Not love or any of the normal bumpf that is all invented for the sake of ordinary art -- instead the pure, simple ordinary stuff of life. There is no one at all with the courage to do this but Rohmer. Jarmusch does it but only for irony. Tarkovsky did it but only by beginning with dream images.
This is an intelligence that transcends ideas. Anyone who thinks this story has any content -- either sweet or profound -- is missing the point.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 4: Worth watching.
I am not a fan of Eric Rohmer. The pace of most of his films is very slow, they
are full of dialogue, and often I react to his characters with a distinct
desire to slap them in the face and shout "get a life!".
However, this one is different, it is a real gem. Yes, the pace is slow, yes the film is loaded with dialogue, but these characters are believable. We see relationships develop, new ones arriving on the scene and old ones being broken up. The drama is the drama of real life, the characters are ordinary (perhaps a bit better looking than ordinary) young people living in a Parisian suburb, there are no extraordinary things happening to them, just ordinary things. While Rohmer's story is realistic, it is still pleasantly realistic. It is just as romantically heart-warming as, say, While You Were Sleeping, but it does not have to force us to suspend our disbelief.
One piece of advice many people will fail to appreciate: if you are a non-French speaker, try to see this in a dubbed version, not a subtitled one! The dynamics and meaning of the dialogue in this film is much more important than the original sound, not to mention that subtitles could hardly keep up with this amount of dialogue.
I'm surprised at the 7.5 rating for "Boyfriends and Girlfriends." Of
the 6-7 Rohmer films I've seen this is undoubtedly the worst. It is
true that the characters come alive in the last part of the film but
it's too little too late. For its standard assumptions and stale
premises have already taken their toll on it. (however, kudos to the
cinematography and evocation of place)
Of the five main characters, Alexandre is the least fabricated. Although meant to be rather detestable, he possesses the most individual identity. He has a smaller role, but his is the most interesting, the least wobbly, and the most real--and for these reasons, emerges as the most likable. True, one isn't expected to like--or dislike Rohmer characters, and yet they're often interesting and certainly worth hearing and comprehending--and some do have real dimensions. And in this, perhaps his most realistic endeavor, shouldn't we expect even more actual character?
The three females roles are the most scripted. I know they're supposed to be represent flat yuppie types but this approach is more patronizing than honest. Lea and especially Blanche, promise far more in the first scenes than they are subsequently allowed to give. Why reign them in? Why immediately tie them down to men, to romance, to the endless prattle about love, match-making, and daydreams? Can they be given just a few ounces of self-direction? I mean, Blanche, at 24, has a career job, but why bother to even tell us that---she bounces from one man to another, and her cloying uncertainties and confessional style belie her screen presence. As does her falling for Alexandre, which is even more incomprehensible to the viewer than it is to Lea and Fabien. It's as if Rohmer's Blanche "falls" in love, but Blanche's Blanche would never "fall" in love. And yet that's about her only shown capacity--apart from wind surfing--in this, her central role.
Lea and Adrienne are even more annoying. Love seems to be their single occupation. They are shallow, cattish, malicious, gossipy, and vacuous. Since there are three women for two men in this incestuous world, one has to be get lost--and the least pretty does, making an early exit. Indeed, Adrienne is given no redeeming qualities--and Lea has very few, the storybook ending bailing her out a wee bit. So, instead of being Rohmer's usual naive or not so naive leggy sirens, they get to be small-minded--it's either Alexandre or Fabien-- bitchy dolts.
I must not be an Eric Rohmer fan. This is the second of his movies I've
seen, after A Summer's Tale, which I disliked although I'm a big fan of
Melvil Poupaud. Both movies are trite and tedious.
Boyfriends & Girlfriends is a boring movie with boring, shallow people talking nonstop about themselves, which, from what I've read, is Rohmer's specialty. When I ask myself, Why would he be interested in people like that? I have no answer. Maybe he identifies with them. Maybe he finds them fascinating.
I love movies in which nothing much happens except character development, but there has to be something interesting about the characters. The most interesting thing in this movie is an unnaturally clear, turquoise-colored, antiseptic lake that a couple go windsurfing on. I've never seen a lake like that in my life. These shallow people live in a sterile, artificial city that looks like a brand new shopping mall (and it's a real place, not made up for the movie), so maybe the lake is artificial too, like a gigantic swimming pool on a golf course.
Everything about this movie screams emptiness and artificiality, so at least it is consistent. Maybe vacant people in a vacant city symbolize something important to Rohmer and his fans, but they just bore me. I'm very interested in lots of things, but spending almost two hours watching petulant, spoiled, shallow people irritate and bore each other isn't one of them.
I'm giving it a star for consistency, which alone is enough to lift it a little way off the bottom of the barrel.
Maybe I've OD'd on Rohmer, just having looked at this film, "Full Moon over Paris" and "The Aviator's Wife" (all on DVD)in a single week. The tone of this picture is light for Rohmer, but his heroine is just as indecisive about how to get her man as his others are about which man to choose. A nice comedy.
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