A womanizing art dealer and a painter find the serenity of their Riviera vacation disturbed by a third guest, a vivacious bohemian woman known for her long list of male conquests.A womanizing art dealer and a painter find the serenity of their Riviera vacation disturbed by a third guest, a vivacious bohemian woman known for her long list of male conquests.A womanizing art dealer and a painter find the serenity of their Riviera vacation disturbed by a third guest, a vivacious bohemian woman known for her long list of male conquests.
Rohmer's Slow Burning Tale Of Sixties Hedonism And Moral Pomposity
Eric Rohmer's movies are, it seems almost without exception, slow- burners that reward those with the patience to sit through them, preferably more than once in some cases, and think about whats being said as much as whats being shown. This, his first feature in colour requires considerable thought on the part of the viewer, serving up nothing in the way of dramatic excitement and featuring three loathsome main characters who's morals are very in keeping with the era of late- 60s self satisfaction and hedonistic excess. Not that the hedonism is very wild. Jimi Hendrix does not blast from the simple record player that sits near a chair and provides the only music in the film. No one smokes anything illegal or pops any pills, talks of Indian mystics or goes in for meditation. But there is the very liberated (nowadays we'd say reckless) attitude to casual sex, although we don't see very much; the relaxed tangle of naked legs half glimpsed through one doorway, a brief an unrevealing shot of the main protagonist, the disturbingly young looking Haydee, quietly enjoying the intimate attention of another one-night-stand. Otherwise it's all hints and the more effective for that. Haydee is the very image of a swinging-sixties bed hopper. Young, slender, independent, cool and seemingly amoral she wrecks the plans of Adrian, an art dealer with time on his hands, when he finds her resident in a borrowed holiday villa at which he intends to devote himself to doing nothing at all for a few weeks while his girlfriend is in London. Haydee's noisy night-time frolics disturb his sleep and offend his self- declared sense of morality and the added presence in the house of his lazy, grumpy painter-friend Daniel sets up a spiralling tension between them all. But this is pure Rohmer and that tension manifests itself not in fist-fights, broken furniture, tearful confessions and blood-letting, but insults, low-key/nigh-brow arguments, teasing, sniping and political manoeuvring. In fact the more one thinks about the film, and it's one of those movies that does hang around long after the credits, the more one realises it's actually rather more like real-life, certainly as most of us endure it from time to time, than the over-dramatic offerings we are used to from mainstream movie-makers. Haydee maybe cute, Adrien describes himself as handsome and the setting is idyllic but you really wouldn't like to be on holiday with these unsympathetic characters. Observing their antics from without is one thing but to be part of it would be a nightmare! Oddly with it's morality so perfectly fixed in it's own time, this seems far more like a film from the 1970s. Something in it's look and after-the-party sense of deflation and disenchantment fits in with that later decade. Seeing it without knowing the release date you might well guess at 1972 or even later. If Godard's BANDE A PARTE is set in a Swinging-Sixties that hasn't yet arrived, Rohmer's film portrays one that has already left the building, although it's after-effects continue to create a problem. It all sounds somewhat depressing on paper and to some extent it is! It's not an easy film but if you give it time and maybe second look, you might well find there is more to this outwardly simple tale than you thought.
- Jan 14, 2013
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