Monday, April 13, 2015

A TALE OF WINTER: One of Eric Rohmer's best makes its U.S. DVDebut this week -- in hi-def!

Another of Eric Rohmer's films that managed to get by me in its theatrical debut, A TALE OF WINTER is surely one of this master's best -- for folk who love listening to intelligent dialog, often in argument form, about some of life's great mysteries, in this case love and faith. Whatever your personal take on the latter (mine is agnostic), the joy of the late M. Rohmer can be found in how he gives most of his characters the opportunity to talk (and talk and talk) about how they feel and think, on whatever subject, as honestly as possible. In these days of less and less intelligent talk in films, this is bracing and often thrilling.

In this movie from 1992, we're hit immediately with something unusual from Rohmer: a hot sex scene and even a little full-frontal, as our heroine and (so we imagine) hero, frolic at the seashore and in bed. Then they must part, but only briefly, as she heads for Paris and he to... well, eventually we learn where and why.

What we saw at the beginning was indeed love, we soon learn, and our heroine, the thoughtful, bold, annoying and caring Félicie (played quite intensely and memorably by Charlotte Véry) is now seen five years later, embroiled in relationships with two different men, neither of them who seem particularly suitable for Félicie. Plus, she has a little five-year-old daughter (played by a charmer and one-film wonder named Ava Loraschi, above, center).

We meet and spend some time (and conversation, of course) with those two men (Hervé Furic, above, and Michel Voletti, below), and our vote would go to M. Furic to gain Félicie's hand, as his conversation is a hell of a lot more interesting that that of M. Voletti, who plays a hairdresser.

But, no, the young lady is a holdout for true love, and over time she does a pretty fair job of explaining exactly why. Some of the dialog (between Félicie and her sister) may sound a bit adolescent, but much of it between the rest of the cast (including friends of the Furic character and Félicie's mother) is smart, caring and important regarding the ways in which we think about and act upon "love."

If, in the end, we rather suspect what will happen, how it happens is quite wonderfully brought to life -- almost as wonderful as the brilliant scene from Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale (above) that is played out in front of us (and Félicie) at a theater performance. The magic of that scene, together with the similar magic of the film's finale, more than make up for any longueurs along the way.

A Tale of Winter -- from Big World Pictures and running 114 minutes -- hits the street on DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, April 14. 

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