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Magali, 45, is a wine producer in the south of France. She's a widow, and her best friend, Isabelle, decides to find her a new husband. She puts an ad in the local newspaper and finds a nice man, Gérald. At Isabelle's daughter's wedding, Magali eventually meets Gérald. But there's another man around, Etienne... Written by
It is autumn in the Rhone valley and grapes are being harvested. Magali (Beatrice Romand), the owner of a small vineyard inherited from her parents, lives alone and attends to her vineyard with the same care she gives to her frizzy black hair. She tells her best friend Isabelle (Marie Riviére), a librarian, that she has no interest in meeting men. "At my age," she says, "it's easier to find buried treasure." Isabelle, however, has her own ideas on the subject and takes out an ad in the local paper to find a suitable partner for her friend. Winner of won the award for Best Screenplay at the Venice Film Festival, Eric Rohmer's An Autumn Tale, the final film in his Four Seasons series, is about matchmaking but this time it is about the need for companionship of older women with grown children.
Like many Rohmer films, a complex web of events and relationships arise from seemingly simple acts of friendship. Isabelle meets Gérald (Alain Libolt), a courteous and laid back salesman through her ad and goes to lunch with him a few times enjoying the idea that she can be still be seductive. After toying with the notion of keeping him for herself, she finally confesses that she is happily married and the whole seduction routine was simply a ploy to introduce him to her best friend Magali. The situation becomes further complicated by the desires of Rosine (Alexia Portal), her son Leo's (Stephane Damon) girlfriend, to set her up with her ex boyfriend Etienne (Diedier Sandre) a philosophy teacher with a penchant for younger women.
Unaware of the others matchmaking efforts, in a true Shakespearean twist, both Gerard and Etienne are invited to the wedding reception for Isabelle's daughter Emilia (Arelia Alcais) and the way it works itself out is delightful to observe. None of this of course unfolds according to plan but the beauty of the film is not the plot but the gradual development of complex three-dimensional characters through typically Rohmerian intelligent and witty dialogue. An Autumn Tale, though it contains some fanciful romantic intrigue, unfolds in a spirit of playful adventure, without guile or mean-spiritedness. Like the conclusion of Lindsay Anderson's O Lucky Man, we smile for no reason and Rohmer leaves us with a dance of joy and a final song: "If life is a journey, we hope your weather's fair, wild flowers are green and blue, travel safely, all of you".
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