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The last of Rohmer's Six Moral Tales. Frederic leads a bourgeois life; he is a partner in a small Paris office and is happily married to Helene, a teacher expecting her second child. In the afternoons, Frederic daydreams about other women, but has no intention of taking any action. One day, Chloe, who had been a mistress of an old friend, begins dropping by his office. They meet as friends, irregularly in the afternoons, till eventually Chloe decides to seduce Frederic, causing him a moral dilemma.Written by
Veteran French actor Bernard Verley stars as Frederic who is the kind of man who loves women with a great passion, but finds that he can direct all that love physically into one woman. Chloe is a woman, cynical about men, confident of her power of seduction, a woman who never wants to marry. They were friends and now they meet again. He is married, a successful businessman. She is single, living from day to day. What will happen? Will she entice him away from his wife? Will he find the French happiness with a wife and a mistress?
The title, while good, is misleading, as is the sexy cover on this video. (The French title, L'amour l'apres-midi, is better; but that title in English was taken by Love in the Afternoon (1957) starring Gary Cooper and Audrey Hepburn.) This is about as sexy as a Disney movie (although there is some backside nudity), yet it is an intriguing story about love, human sexuality and the question of monogamy. I can already see some of the other reviews: "Too talky." "Endless talk and no action." Ah, but they are wrong. This is a fascinating film in which the action is subtle and true and very interesting.
Francoise Verley plays Frederic's wife. She is not nearly as pretty as he thinks she is. Nor is she as removed from his life away from her as he naively believes. Eric Rohmer's subtle direction makes it clear that she knows more than she will ever tell him, that she loves him and perhaps prays that he still loves her. But she is above saying a single word. One gets the sense that she knows he is a man so attractive to other women that it is inevitable that he will stray. But does he? The final scene in which we know why she is crying--although ironically, he does not--is just beautifully done and ends the movie at exactly the right moment.
Zouzou plays Chloe who is Parisian, bohemian and quietly desperate. As usual with Rohmer there is a kind of realism in the movie that defies description. The people and the scenes and the events are real; there is no straining for effect, and everything is understated with a characteristic Rohmerian message about human nature.
This starts slow and never really speeds up, but do yourself a favor and stay with it. The denouement is beautifully turned and the revelation of the three principal characters is as clear and clean and agreeable as Chloe after her shower.
(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)
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