Town hall bureaucrat Blanche is new in town and soon bumps into data processing trainee Lea. Within minutes they’re discussing their sex lives, as one does, then head off to the local pool where Blanche falls for Alexandre, the local hunk. Alexandre prefers Lea, but Lea’s going out with Fabien, with whom she has little in common. Fabien falls for Blanche and Lea suddenly realises she’s really in love with Alexandre. Cue: lots of angst. This, then, is the plot of Éric Rohmer‘s sixth film in his gentle Comedies and Proverbs series.
Not a lot actually happens in Rohmer movies. The dialogue is dense and scenes often linger for so long that they positively outstay their welcome. But the acting impeccable in this study of the dynamics of an everyday suburban menage a quatre. Quite why art house films are allowed to get away with such dreadful dialogue remains a mystery, however. At one point, Fabien whisks his beloved Blanche off to a deserted wood, flashes her a greasy Gallic grin and assures her that “time is standing still for both of us” as his sweaty fingers inch towards her heaving breasts.
The truth is that this is little more than a highbrow soap, albeit a neatly understated, closely observed one. Students of meaningful gesture in continental cinema are rewarded with several betrayed looks, a couple of discreet loving glances and a particularly fine quivering lower lip.
It’s back on screen in the Watershed’s En Vacances d’été… with Eric Rohmer August Sunday brunch season.