is the early 1980s in Paris. The hair is feathered and the phones are all
rotary. It looks glaringly dated, but the relationship issues of the characters
inhabiting this world are as fresh today as they were when the film wrapped.
Such is often the case with the work of Éric Rohmer. Technically, it is the
fourth of his narratively discrete Comedies
and Proverbs pseudo-series, but Full
Moon in Paris (trailer
here) is completely its own Rohmeresque animal,
which launches Film Movement’s Classic line when it re-releases this Friday in
loves Remi, more or less, but she is not nearly as enamored with him as he is
with her. By now, the lovely social butterfly is accustomed to being in that
position. Still, she is committed enough to move into his modern suburban condo
in Marne. The daily commute from her Paris interior design internship is a bit
of a drag, especially when she wants to go out with friends. Everything would
be much simpler if Remi would agree to let her keep a pied-a-terre. Of course,
that means they will have to mutually trust each other.
her aggressively flirtatious nature, Louise is, by-and-large, faithful to Remi.
Ironically, it is Octave, the married platonic friend whose advances she frequently
refuses, who plants the seeds of suspicions in her. He is absolutely convinced
he saw Remi with one of Louise’s fashionista friends, under rather intimate
most of Rohmer’s films, Moon completely
stands alone. Yet, the more Rohmer films viewers watch, the more they get out
of them as a collective body. Again, Rohmer displays a characteristic
fascination with schedules and time tables, while duly marking the passage of
successive months. He also gives us a time capsule snap shot of the suburban
Paris circa 1984.
Moon is arguably one of the easiest
Rohmer films for viewers to identify with. Let’s be honest, just about everyone
has been in an unequal relationship, liking the other person more than they reciprocated,
or liking them in a completely different way. Louise is in several such
relationships, but karma will ultimately catch up with her.
the saddest aspect of Moon is the
tragic fate of Pascale Ogier, who would become only the second actress to be posthumously
nominated for César Award for her performance as Louise. She might very well have
become Rohmer mainstay, but it was not to be. Even though the character causes all her angst
and heartache, Ogier still makes Louise a figure of great sympathy. Yes, she is
self-serving and insensitive, but in a strangely naïve way. Indeed, she is the
picture of waif-like vulnerability.
is also rather mind-blowing to see the future Luc Besson tough guy Tchéky Karyo
playing the socially awkward Remi. He is in fact, quite good, especially in the
big pay-off scene. In contrast, Octave is not so very different from the supercilious
characters Fabrice Luchini has made a career out of playing, but he gives
Louise’s married suitor a notable edge. Whereas, in the Rohmer tradition of
small parts with large impact, László Szabó nearly steals the entire picture
outright in his eleventh hour appearance as an illustrator working in the wee
hours at a local café, slyly putting an exclamation point on Rohmer’s chosen
proverb: “he who has two women loses his soul, he who has two houses loses his
returns just in time to act as a corrective to
Victor Levin’s middling 5 to 7, which
seems to think it has a lot to say about relationships, but is completely
undercut by Louise’s eye-opening experiences. Rohmer’s film has a forgiving
nature, but there is still a lot of sting to it. It is also rather encouraging
to see the quiet Rohmer renaissance continue, following the long deferred
proper New York opening of A Summer’s Tale and the subsequent revival of A Tale of Winter. Both are fine works, but Full Moon in Paris is an even better film. Highly recommended for
those who appreciate honest and sophisticated filmmaking, Full Moon in Paris opens this Friday (4/17) at the Elinor Bunin
Munroe Film Center, in conjunction with a full retrospective of Rohmer’s Comedies and Proverbs.
Labels: Eric Rohmer, Fabrice Luchini, French Cinema, Pascale Ogier