In an enchanted forest, back in the time of the Druids, the shepherd Céladon and the shepherdess Astrée share a pure and chaste love. Fooled by a suitor, Astrée dismisses Céladon, who throws himself into a river out of despair. She thinks he's dead, but he's been secretly rescued by some nymphs. Faithful to the promise he made to Astrée to never appear before her again, Céladon must overcome many obstacles to break the curse. Mad with love and despair, coveted by the nymphs, surrounded by rivals, and obliged to disguise himself as a woman to be near the one he loves, will he manage to make himself known without breaking his oath? A romance filled with doubt, hazards, and delicious temptations.Written by
I love Rohmer's films - about people in love who talk too much about being in love - but wasn't sure how I'd take this one. Not to worry. It's the distilled essence of the other films, an abstraction of them. The characters in those films are always less deep than they believe. Part of the pleasure is seeing them brought back to normal humanity. Here the characters start out shallow and stay there. The lovers are lovers and nothing more. Their love is a given. The complications are perfunctory, as is the resolution. In the middle of this shallowness, Rohmer gives us a philosophical conversation that is basically about the Trinity (Druid-style, to be sure) and the oneness of the multiple gods, and another conversation about the oneness of lovers. And then the resolution has Celadon becoming Astrea and then Astrea and Celadon becoming one, so the shallow story becomes a reflection of divinity.
I loved the pastoral setting. The countryside is beautiful - flowers in almost every shot - without having its beauty forced on you. The sound is live and dense - human conversation embedded in the natural noise of water and birds. Yet the characters, especially the nymphs, felt something like Rohmer's modern Parisians without seeming alien from their setting. It's a masterful touch.
This is not my favorite Rohmer, of course. But it's a wonderful way for him to sum up his career and to say au revoir or even adieu.
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