A TALE OF SUMMER

(Conte d'ete)

Directed by Eric Rohmer. 1996.


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Eric Rohmer's characters are often irritating and insufferable, yet they can likewise be charming and utterly irresistible. In A Tale of Summer, Gaspard (Melvil Poupaud) acts like a grown up teenager who likes to play at love but is unwilling to make commitments, finding himself unable to honestly express his feelings to three women he meets at a seaside resort. Like so many Rohmer films, the story takes place at a time when the characters have nothing to do but meet and talk and idle the days away, and you can be certain there is plenty of talk. Gaspar is a tall, slender young guitar player who comes to Brittany on vacation from his job as a mathematician and spends time by himself composing and playing music. 

Pausing long enough to get out and see the town, Gaspar meets Margot (Amanda Langlet) an ethnologist working in a local restaurant. He develops a relationship with Margot but it is all very platonic as Margot is waiting for her boyfriend to return from the Peace Corps and Gaspard says that he is waiting for the arrival of his girl friend Lena, vacationing with her cousins in Spain. Margot and Gaspard take long walks in the French countryside and engage in witty and intelligent conversation about relationships, jealousy, and sex and they seem well suited for each other but each avoids an emotional connection. At Margot's suggestion Gaspar meets another girl, Solene (Gwenaelle Simon), at a disco and they share a love for music but Solene becomes demanding when Gaspar is reluctant to make a commitment to take her on a trip to a nearby island.  

His ego is strengthened by Solene's attraction to him, but when Lena finally shows up, he must deal with her mercurial temperament, especially when she tells him that he is not worthy of her. Eventually, the young man digs himself quite a hole as he makes the same promise to all three women and is fearful of confronting them to explain. A Tale of Summer is one of Rohmer's lighter films and I found it to be a lovely and engaging way to spend two hours. Though his characters have plenty of flaws that are all too apparent, Rohmer does not judge or evaluate them but accepts them the way that they are -- so, for all their faults, I suppose we should as well. 

GRADE: B+ 

Howard Schumann
 
 
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