Sunday, November 16, 2014

On the heels of its U.S. theatrical debut, a hi-def DVD release of Eric Rohmer's A SUMMER'S TALE

What a joy for Eric Rohmer fans here in the USA to finally be able to see one of the loveliest of his several "tales," some 18 years after its original release throughout the rest of the world. Why A SUMMER'S TALE never made it here in any kind of theatrical release is a mystery to me, as his films have proven perennially popular on the U.S. arthouse circuit. No matter, since Big World Pictures, a relatively new distributor, has seen to it that the film had its belated theatrical release this past summer and now arrives on DVD.

Another surprise: the movie stars the popular French actor Mevil Poupaud as a young man named Gaspard who begins the film semi-love-sick over one girl and eventually finds himself saddled -- due to his own hesitation, naivete, hypocrisy and sheer fear -- with two more. As usual, with Rohmer (the late filmmaker is shown at right), character is all, and I mean this is both senses of the word. Rohmer's movies are always character, rather than plot, driven. And it is the character of those characters that is most important. What kind of people are these, and how does this reflect on their actions and the consequences of same?

What a treat it is to see the handsome M. Poupaud (above, left, and below, right) at such a young age, as well as meeting the three attractive, intelligent and spunky young women with whom his character becomes involved. The first is a waitress (Amanda Langlet, above, right, whom many of us may have originally met as the youngster in Rohmer's earlier Pauline at the Beach). The scenes of dialog these two characters share are memorable indeed: witty, off-the-cuff, quite real and yet like little we've seen or heard elsewhere (except maybe in another Rohmer film).

The second young woman, Solene -- a knockout job by the beautiful Gwenaëlle Simon, above, left -- is immediately attracted to our boy, though he insists that girls this hot never are. They make a fine couple, never more so than when she is singing one of the songs he has recently composed (a rather nice one, too).

Ah, but then his supposed true lady love shows up (Aurelia Nolin, above, left) and proves to be... ah, but little surprises like this are part of what make Rohmer's films such fun. Again, character is all. And what interesting, well differentiated and thoroughly frustrating/captivating people this foursome proves to be.

As usual, morality -- not so much in terms of what the common populous might judge it, but how our ideas and behavior impact on those closest to us -- comes into question, and the filmmaker, via his terrific dialog and situations, lets us make our own judgments on characters and outcome.

The DVD of A Summer's Tale -- running 114 minutes -- hits the street this coming Tuesday, November 18, and is of course a don't-miss for Rohmer fans and probably an excellent place to begin for those who've yet to know his work. 

No comments: