Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Love in the Afternoon (Eric Rohmer, 1972)

The last in Eric Rohmer's Six Moral Tales, Love in the Afternoon (sometimes known as Chloe in the Afternoon) is a simple-seeming story of a man, Frederic, who is married to Helene and has two children with her, but meets in the afternoons with Chloe, the ex-girlfriend of an old friend. Rohmer's main moral question in this film is what constitutes cheating? Frederic and Chloe simply meet to talk for most of the movie, and it more or less never gets physical, but is Frederic being faithful to Helene? He admits that he does not want to be in a relationship with a woman who knows all his secrets, and would rather have someone outside the relationship to talk to, but what kind of relationship is that?

Chloe reappears in Frederic's life after six years away in America. She is not conventially beautiful, but she is immensely attractive in spite of (or because of) how directionless her life is and how desperate she is. Chloe stays with any man who will offer her something, and while Frederic is at first a target, and also afraid that Chloe is only using him, she stays with him even though he doesn't offer her anything other than a companion to talk to and someone to imagine having a child with. Frederic, as I said, is quiet (but not unhappy) in his marriage to Helene, and he even has an English nanny who walks around naked with whom he could have an affair if he wanted. In Chloe, he finds a companion, a woman with whom he can have a conversation. At first, he seems to be immune to sexual attraction with Chloe, and while that eventually changes, their relationship seems more platonic than sexual at any given moment.

Love in the Afternoon is a powerful rumination on the nature of love and lust, and relationships between men and women. As Chloe, Zouzou (anyone know anything about her?) gives a radiant performance, making the audience believe that a loser like Chloe could actually be so luminous to make a man like Frederic fall in love with her. Rohmer leaves the questions very open-ended, and through his non-judgemental exploration on fidelity and adultery, gives us some good insights on the nature of love. I am looking forward to watching more of the Moral Tales.


RIYL: Truffaut, French New Wave

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