Sunday, September 7, 2014

Conte d'été (A Summer's Tale) (1996)

Director: Eric Rohmer
Writer:    Eric Rohmer
Cast:       Melvil Poupaud, Amanda Langlet, Gwanaelle Simon, Aurelia Nolin
Language: French

A shy Maths graduate takes a holiday in Dinard waiting for his girlfriend Lena. She is late and he strikes up friendship with another girl Margot. She in turn introduces him to a further lady (Solene) who fancies him. Thus the young man finds himself having to manage this situation which is kind of novel for him. As Margot, whom he kind of friend-zoned, tells him that he is like a bum who wakes up as a millionaire having no  idea what to do.

Richard Linklater's Before trilogy is certainly among the best one could  find in the romantic conversational type genre. It certainly is very realistic but a drawback that one could say with that is that the couple in question adds too much star quality in those films even though the level of maturity shown by them in terms of thought process  kind of justifies. But at the end of the day they are not that relatable even though you kind of nods in agreement with what they say. A Summer's Tale is like a rawer version with the characters exhibiting a level of intellectualism that borders on the pseudo territory which makes it much more relatable. It is much harder to pull off because doing extremes is easy since the filmmakers also tend to be on extremes when it comes to talent and thinking. The characters can be quite irritable but no rulebook says you have to like the characters in a film to enjoy the film. 

The three girls in the young man's summer fits into the three of the four broad stereotypes that one could fit people into based on intellect and beauty. His girlfriend Lena is both intellectual and beautiful but he doesn't have a strong hand (George Costanza speak) in that relationship and feels a sense of inferiority with her. Margot is an intellectual but plain looking and even though they both kind of try to keep their relationship at the platonic level she is attracted to him. Solene is the stereotyped cheerleader type of girl. None of the ladies are kind of ideal for him and he likes to have the decisions taken out of him by circumstances like the ending of the film suggests.  

The film is the third one in Eric Rohmer's Tales of Four Seasons which also includes 'A Tale of Springtime', 'A Tale of Winter' and 'Autumn Tale'. This is the first film I have seen from Eric Rohmer and I will certainly check out his other films. He dies in 2010 and was part of the French New Wave in the sixties. One can certainly see his influence in the works of Richard Linklater and Noah Baumbach,  both of whose films I enjoy a lot.

Rating: 4/5