Saturday 24 March 2012

A Summer's Tale [1996]

The third entry in French auteur Eric Rohmer’s “Tales of Four Seasons” is also generally referred to as the best movie of that series. A Summer’s Tale is at once a cerebral and a deeply felt bittersweet exploration of love and friendship, thus making this a highly rewarding romantic comedy for intelligent and matured viewers. Gaspard (Melvil Poupoud), a young man whose vocation is mathematics but whose passion lies in music, has arrived in a quaint beach town called Brittany, purportedly to enjoy a quite vacation, but in essence to meet Lena, the shallow but pretty girl he is in love with. While strolling on the beaches alone he ends up meeting Margot (Gwenaelle Simon), a cute and cheerful young waitress cum ethnologist – and while having discussions on erudite topics as well as matters related to the heart, they develop a beautiful, layered and platonic relationship that could either be a warm friendship between two like-minded persons or subtle but deep romantic love between two lovelorn individuals. Meanwhile Gaspard also has an unlikely fling with the attractive but demanding Solene, and his widely differing trysts with the three ladies puts the good-natured but indecisive young musician in a tricky situation – the kind that he has never experienced before. Though a charming and a seemingly light-hearted film on the surface, it also managed to be a deeply personal and a beautifully observed work that managed to wonderfully capture the emotional affectations that define relationships between young people. The film boasts of a memorable chemistry between the two leads, and a finale that managed to be quite profound despite its inherent simplicity.

Director: Eric Rohmer
Genre: Drama/Romance
Language: French
Country: France


Sam Juliano said...

One of Rohmer's greatest films, and one that typically probes beneath the surface to yield some pertinent observations of friendship (as you note in your review) and passions. It's Rohmer in full flavour. Again you've authored a beautiful capsule review of an essential New Wave work.

Shubhajit said...

Thanks a ton Sam for the kind words. Rohmer was really a master at portraying simple human interactions, relationships & dynamics without resorting to any form of cliches or overt symbolism. Its really sad, however, that he didn't earn as much adulation as some of his New Wave contemporaries did.