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a charming, refreshing, very enjoyable film more complex than it seems at first
tharsis-127 July 2004
A young woman, Blanche (Emmanuelle Chaulet), is working in the City Hall of the New Town of Cergy Pontoise, in the north west of Paris, on the banks of the river Oise. Alone, recently arrived in the Parisian Region, she befriended another young woman, a computer science student finishing its school, Lea (Sophie Renoir) with which she met her boyfriend Fabien (Eric Viellard), and an acquaintance of the couple, Alexandre (François-Eric Gendron).

The French title (l'ami de mon amie, the friend of her friend) is more explicit than the American or English one. (Boyfriends and Girlfriends): A reference to the saying 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' but distorted to 'the friend of my friend is my friend'. This title, an example of the irony of Eric Rohmer, the boyfriend of my friend could become my (boy)friend

This film belongs to the cycle Comedies and Proverbs, the former term being as important as the latter one in order to understand the meaning of the film. This cycle, filmed in the eighties followed the precedent older cycle, six Moral Tales. Where as the latter concentrated on middle aged married man tempted by another woman but who finally, in relief, returned to his wife, Rohmer in the series of Comedies and Proverbs, turns his attention towards younger female characters. But because it is comedy, the tone is also much lighter and ironic. Here he examines the sexual freedom, (which in fact he disapproves but never condemns overtly in his films), its consequences and how the younger generation is trying to live with a new set of rules.

One of these rules, never sleeps with the friend of her or his friend, as often, in earlier time with the traditional moral, is finally broken. But there is more than a tale of love and seduction. It is a study of characters and how love creates a web of relationship among this small group of young urban professionals. As the relationships between them evolve the spectator finally feels some sympathy for the protagonists, at first not very likable. Especially Blanche who is the center of the entire plot, if one can tell of real plot in Rohmer film. Alone self-pitying, infatuated with the irritating, pretentious, serial seducer Alexandre, she blossoms when stricken by real love. She is opposed to her friend yet rival, Lea, physically as well mentally. With dark hair and tall, Lea is freer sexually than the small light-haired Blanche awaiting the great love for two years. The quest of Blanche is the perfect true love, not just an adventure. Ironically, at first she blindly falls in love with the great local seducer Alexandre.

With discreet symbolism, Rohmer gives clues about the different players. Blanche (white in french), around whom the whole film revolves demands only a pure love. As Delphine in Summer (Le Rayon Vert), the precedent film of the same cycle, the very absence of love, this void, fills here with anguish. Its flat at Cergy Saint Christophe is decorated in minimalist white fashion, thus emphasizing the loneliness of its life. Blanche and Léa sport alternatively the same colors, green and blue, this swap of colors underlining the possible swap of boyfriends.

Rohmer, because of its interest in urbanization (the DVD version contains a documentary he made earlier on industrial aesthetics), sets the action of the film in the New Town of Cergy-Pontoise, described as a quiet, modern, ultra clean Utopia. In fact the spectator sees the town only through Blanche eyes, mainly the pedestrian streets around the center, the banks of the river Oise, the Ricardo Bofil buildings where she lives. But I don't think the Cergy depicted could be viewed, as often said, as a reflection of a superficiality of its young 'yuppies' characters. The purpose of Rohmer was to see the impact of modern architecture on love life. But the answer is in the film: It changes nothing. On the contrary it amplifies or underlines the love relationship between the different characters.

'L'ami de mon amie 'is an extremely enjoyable film, full of charm, thanks to the direction of Eric Rohmer and the talent of its young actresses, then in theirs early twenties, like the young women they play. The frozen moment of happiness at the end of the film, just before the credits contributes to its charm. But it is problematic: Have the protagonist found enduring love? Will their love relationship and in the same time, their friendship endure the strain of time? Nothing in fact is sure as irony is always present. But if ironic, Rohmer doesn't despise his characters. On contrary he shows a real tenderness and comprehension towards them, especially Blanche.

One of the lighter films of Rohmer, of course very talkative, it is characteristic of all its work, with good mannered young people in search of love while searching themselves. Because of the minimalist direction, it has not aged much since its shot in middle of the eighties. Yet, you can glimpse of the fashion of its period in the clothes of the players if you pay attention on certain details Nowadays, Cergy has aged and worn out a little. Never the modern utopia ironically depicted by Rohmer, it is still a well maintained active town.
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Film, art of space
Ilpo Hirvonen22 June 2010
Eric Rohmer was more than one of the directors who formed the French New Wave. He also wrote a lot of surveys and articles about cinema, especially about his favorite director, F.W. Murnau, out who he wrote his dissertation. His first article that got published in the year 1948 was titled (directly translated:) "Film, art of space." In the year 1962 Eric Rohmer published his academic survey called: "The construction of space in Murnau's Faust." While reading about his surveys and articles, it's no surprise that space in Rohmer's films seems to be as important as the plot.

Eric Rohmer's career started with problems, and it wasn't going forward. But when he got off the ground, he proceeded more purposefully than anyone. When the new wave era ended in 1964, the directors of it started eventually finding their own path. Eric Rohmer started his series of six film, The Moral Tales and continued with Comedies & Proverbs in the 1980's. L'ami de mon amie (My Girlfriend's Boyfriend) is sixth and the last one in the series. It builds around the proverb: "My friends' friends are my friends." The comical situations emerge between two women who unintentionally swap boyfriends.

Two women suddenly meet while having lunch. One of the two women is Blanche, she is a skinny, uptight young woman, who is still searching for herself. The other is Lea, she's self-confident and a very feminine person. They both have something going on with men, so the main characters have their opponents; shy Fabien and a true player, Alexandre.

While trying to figure out the space of My Girlfriend's Boyfriend, I can't miss the futuristic city the characters live in. I got the feeling that Eric Rohmer isn't trying to tell a story of four specific people who live in France. To me he's telling about all the people living in these suburbs of Paris. The space of a futuristic city, the city full of postmodern architecture without any past. This theme of the milieu leads to rootlessness. The people of this city have no past, each of them like to analyze and talk about themselves. But none of them really know who they are.

My Girlfriend's Boyfriend offered these kind of things for me. In addition to its intelligent narrative, it is full of hilarious comical situations. Eric Rohmer builds four very interesting characters which will take you on board.

"My friends' boyfriends are my boyfriends."
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Truly beautiful
triumph-tsx9 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I recall my first watching this on TV in my early twenties alone on a Friday night and thinking it would pass the time...little did I know that I would slowly fall in love with this film.

The convincing performances of all those involved in particular, the tenderness of the romance between Blanche and Fabien is truly wonderful, mimicking true love with uncanny accuracy -something no film anywhere has achieved so authentically. Their scenes on the towpath are so well played , one feels a voyeur intruding upon what should be a private moment. No other film maker could have made this without exploiting it -only Rohmer has the respect for romance to leave things to the imagination.

To my surprise, I found myself living the film myself a couple of years later and Rohmer's authenticity was confirmed. Watching this takes me back to being a young man again and the wonder of love.

From this start , I developed an affection for Rohmer's work, enjoying Rendez-Vous A Paris and A Summer's Tale but for me, this is THE ONE.
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my favorite rohmer
marymorrissey20 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I love this film for many reasons for one it takes place in this weird sort of shopping mall town outside of Paris that is very post modern surreal, and they do this funny standing up boating sport that is so ludicrous. I also really love the line, which I paraphrase, "Oh Alexandre is the kind of guy anyone would fall in love with" Blanche, presumably can do better: to love someone it takes a more extraordinary person to love. There is not quite as much pompous holding forth in this film that one has to suffer through with most Rohmer films set in contemporary times. Although, as usual, most of the people involved are exquisitely hyporcritical, here it's fun, the comedy is a little more blatant. I notice from reading reviews on IMDb that a lot of people who adore Rohmer, don't, as far as I'm concerned, half understand what he's getting at. I'm sure I went on and on about this in a review of Claire's Knee. If I didn't, why didn't I? Of course Boyfriends and Girlfriends became the model for an homage by Woody Allen, one of his better movies, too, "Hubands and Wives".
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Slow-moving but psychologically astute analysis of couples' crisis over commitment
Turfseer21 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
In French it's called "My Girlfriend's Boyfriend" and it's set around the time the movie was made in 1987.  We meet Blanche (played with great intensity by Emmanuelle Chaulet) who lives in a new town near Paris, Cergy-Pontoise (known for its ultra-modern architecture).  She's an ordinary civil servant working in the Ministry of Cultural Affairs.  When she runs into a slightly younger college student at a computer school, Lea, they strike up a fast friendship.  

Keep in mind that for those who are looking for a lot of action and sudden plot reversals, you will not find it here.  Boyfriends and Girlfriends is primarily dialogue driven as well as an intimate character study and if you are willing to put up with the glacial pacing, then you will find this film quite compelling.  

We soon discover that Lea is quite different than her newly found friend, Blanche.  Lea is a 'player' and she bemoans the fact that her current boyfriend, Fabien, has "no initiative" and with him, all her games "fall flat".   She hints that maybe an older man would suit her better.  Blanche, on the other hand, has fallen for Alexandre, a slightly older guy who has a Ph.D in engineering and works for the local 'Power and Light' company. From the get go, Lea recognizes that Alexandre is not Blanche's type since he's a "ladies man" and is  "not serious minded".  Blanche, however, sticks to her adolescent infatuation and when they both run into the handsome Lothario at a local restaurant, she's tongue-tied and comes to the conclusion that she's made a fool of herself in his eyes.  

Lea soon announces to Blanche that she's taking a vacation to get away from Fabien.  She reasons that perhaps there are more fish in the sea that she can catch.  Lea gives Blanche her French Open ticket, where she sits next to Fabien and a disinterested Alexandre who's with a friend, Adrienne. Later, Adrienne, a gossip, urges Blanche to go after Fabien; while her remarks are inappropriate, she still serves up the prescient remark that Fabien and Lea are "trapped".  Soon, Blanche and Fabien end up seeing each other.  They enjoy windsurfing together, a sport which Lea has no interest in.  Before you know it, Blanche and Fabien find that they like each other more and more.  Before kissing Fabien, Lea cries not because they're "tears of joy' but rather she still has some "silly girlish ideas" (her infatuation with Alexandre).  Blanche can't repress her sexual desires for Fabien so she sleeps with him but makes him promise that it's a one time deal and that he shouldn't tell Lea or anyone else about their rendezvous.  

Soon we realize that Rohmer's strategy is to document the crisis for these four young people in the summer before they "commit" to one another.  Lea makes one last attempt to get back with Fabien but soon afterward at a café, reveals to Blanche that she's left him for good.  And after Alexandre joins them at the café, Blanche realizes (after listening to Alexandre's banter) that she's been deluding herself about him, all along.  Blanche actually gets physically sick and excuses herself from the table, leaving Lea and Alexandre to find out whether they're really meant for one another.

In probably the best scene in the film, Lea proves that she has the mettle to go 'toe to toe' with Alexandre. Her gambit is to confirm that Alexandre has no interest in Blanche. He immediately denies that he ever displayed any interest in her ("Did I lead her on?") and then bluntly states that "she's boring". Alexandre asks Lea if she'd like to come over to his place and Lea smartly replies, "I'm too young to set up house".

Lea and Alexandre's conversation is interrupted by a scene with Blanche and Adrienne. Rohmer establishes that Adrienne is the odd woman out. Unlike the two couples, she's basically a fool who's not serious about getting involved in a relationship. Adrienne mentions a "young painter—he seems sensitive" and Rohmer mocks her by utilizing a fade out to end the scene as she continues blabbing about nothing (the only time Rohmer appears to 'fade out' in the entire film).

We cut back to Lea and Alexandre's extended conversation—Lea states she likes to be wooed and wonders why Alexandre never did anything "wild" months before. He snaps his fingers and humorously offers a 'wild scenario': "Let's runaway. I'll kidnap you"! Lea doesn't find this "wild" at all so Alexandre bluntly states, "come live with me". Lea concedes that "she might" but it won't be for six months. Alexandre has met his match. Lea offers a deal where they both agree not to see anyone else for six months.

Meanwhile, Blanche meets Fabien and confesses that she was in "love with an image" and now realizes that Alexandre wasn't for her all along. The crisis continues for a moment when Blanche misunderstands Lea when they meet (she believes Lea has been talking about Fabien but actually was talking about Alexandre all along).

Rohmer wraps things up nicely with a pleasant, happy ending. Lea and Blanche's friendship remains solid despite being sorely tested by their decision to begin new relationships. The bigger picture is that both couples are now ready to shack up for the long-term. Rohmer suggests that even the philandering Alexandre is ready to commit as he has met his match with Lea. And Blanche and Fabien, the ones who refuse to 'play act', find mutual attraction through their mutual 'sensitive' nature.

Boyfriends and Girlfriends could have used a little tighter editing especially in regards to the long-winded exposition; but with its great dialogue and Rohmer's ability to chronicle each characters' inner turmoil, this is a worthwhile film for the discerning and patient film goer!
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Let's swap boyfriends!
lastliberal29 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Not the best film of 1987; Au revoir les enfants was better, but one certainly worth your investment of time.

Writer/director Eric Rohmer is not giving us the typical French vistas of outdoor cafés and artists, but is showing the lives of materialistic and shallow French yuppies in the French suburbs outside Paris. The Eiffel Tower is only seen in the remote distance.

They focus on looks alone in choosing boyfriends.

Blanche (Emmanuelle Chaulet - Chocolat) and Lea (Sophie Renoir) are friends. Not BFF, but just two twenty-somethings that hang and discuss men.

Lea has Fabien (Eric Viellard), and Blanche is enchanted with Alexandre (François-Eric Gendron).

Blanche gets herself in a situation where she is involved with Lea's boyfriend, while Lea is off sampling others. Although they pretend to be friends, the constant flirting takes it's toll and they end up in bed. But she still won't commit out of fear of hurting her friend.

So, what does she do when Lea announces she has broken up with Fabien for good? She realizes that Alexandre is an unattainable dream and goes off to find Fabien. Meanwhile Alexandre and Lea hit it off.

The laughs are plenty as the two friends try to get their love lives together without hurting the other.

Nothing deep; like watching an episode of Friends, but cute and enjoyable with Chaulet and Renoir providing excellent performances.
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entertaining but somewhat fluffy
Andres Salama8 November 2006
A young woman, Blanche (the lovely Emmanuelle Chaulet), works in the City Hall of a trendy New Town near Paris (somewhat to his discredit, Rohmer's films always occurs in middle class and upper middle class milieus, never in working class neighborhoods or in the immigrants building projects). Having recently arrived there, Blanche lives quite a lonely life, until she becomes friends with another young woman, Lea (Sophie Renoir), through which she met her boyfriend Fabien (Eric Viellard), and an acquaintance of the couple, Alexandre (François-Eric Gendron). Basically, the movie follows the time honored plot of exchange of relationships. A is with B, and C with D, but then A will start a liaison with D, which will make C jealous, and would start going with B in revenge and so forth. The title in French is a pun: the boyfriend of my friend would (could) become my boyfriend. Rohmer is known to be a political conservative, but here he is hardly a moralist, since he examines the sexual freedom of today's youth without condemning it. The movie is slow and talky, but these characters are believable and appealing (if somewhat shallow and a bit better looking than ordinary).
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Love, friendship, dilemmas
LeRoyMarko11 December 2004
I love Rohmer's films. Even more those in the cycle Comedies and Proverbs. They're dissertations about love, friendship and the fine line between the two. In Rohmer's world, love and what leads to it is comparable to an algebraic formula: A is to C what B is to A. Again in this one, a lot of interesting dialog, in which every line incites us to reflect. Like this one: "Maybe it's because I didn't love her anymore that I went back with her". In fact, dialog and interaction between the characters are the only thing that matter in this movie. Everything else his not important. And as for characters, there is just a few, so you get to know them. You know what they want and how they react when they get it.

Out of 100, I gave it 76. That's good for **½ out of ****. Seen at home, in Toronto, on November 26th, 2004.
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Shock, horror: realistic relationships
Stefan Kahrs26 October 1998
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.
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Intelligent banality
tedg22 July 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

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.
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Boyfriends, What Else?
jcappy10 March 2008
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.
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Eric Rohmer's Comedies et Proverbes Series:Part 6.
morrison-dylan-fan2 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Finding the first title in Rohmer's loose film series to be the most interesting one out of the group,I got set to watch the final in the series,with the hope that Rohmer would wrap things up in a similar fashion.

The plot:

Starting a new life for herself, Blanche meets a woman called Lea,whose care-free nature soon leads to them becoming friends.Catching a glimpse of him,Blanche goes to ask a handsome guy called Alexandre out,but is disappointed to learn that he is already going out with an arty women called Adrienne.Feeling down over being the only one that is single,Blanche soon finds the tide to change.

View on the film:

Bringing the curtain down on the series,writer/director Éric Rohmer & cinematographer Bernard Lutic collide the two major visual motifs of the movies via all the interior scenes being pulled back to their barest, breached white form,and the great outdoors being drizzled with floral colours and a breezy atmosphere. Continuing his theme of the bourgeoisie,the screenplay by Rohmer takes a refreshingly comedic slant,which while never outrageously hilarious does inject the title with a dry wit that gives the criss-crossing romances between Blanche and Lea a charming zest,as they tell each other comedies and proverbs.
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Stick with this one.
MartinHafer25 December 2014
I am not a particular fan of Eric Rohmer's films. I generally find them very talking and slow--although I know most critics adore his films. This being said, I have enjoyed a few of his films-- particularly his later movies. And, I really enjoyed "Boyfriends and Girlfriends". However, I did not like it at first--it grew on me as I watched. Because of that, I really recommend you stick with this one.

The film begins with Blanche and Lea meeting for the first time. They soon become friends and begin spending their lunch hours together. Lea is the more vivacious of the two and she has a boyfriend, Fabien. As for Blanche, who is more the subject of this film, she's rather lonely and has no love life. But, over time, as Lea and Fabien become more and more distant, Blanche finds herself attracted to Fabien. Lea couldn't care less--as she is now falling for Alexandre--a man Blanche had been interested in dating. What's next? See the film.

As I mentioned above, this is a talky and rather slow film--at least for a while. However, the film all comes together very, very well-- and the ending is simply smashing. Well worth seeing.
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Boring and tedious
jm1070122 May 2009
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.
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Another Rohmer film about a woman
Gerry-1230 October 2000
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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