Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Eric Rohmer RIP

Eric Rohmer died Jan. 11 at 89. A member of the French New Wave he directed right up until 2007, making 51 films. Rohmer was one of the last great directors of that extremely important period (of the others, Truffaut is dead, but Godard, Claude Chabrol and Jacques Rivette are still alive) and I will sorely miss him. This Nouvelle Vague artist was perhaps best known in North America for films that were screened on college campuses such as Claire's Knee or Chloe in the Afternoon, pictures that depicted the romance, idealism and confusion of being young. Rohmer's pictures were intimate in a number of senses. They were small scale productions usually with a few characters. They were made very economically with a small crew. But they never felt this way. The movies were shot in all kinds of locations yet I remember mostly his bucolic country or seashore scenes. Most of all Rohmer's films were about relationships. They were character studies of those caught up in friendships and love or in pursuing love. They were about women and men. They were about desires and misunderstandings, loneliness and seeking connection, sometimes obtaining it and other times failing. The last film of his I saw was A Good Marriage (1982) and captures the ellipitical nature of relationships. Sabine is introduced by Clarisse to Edmond, a busy Parisian lawyer. Despite her doubts she allows herself to be convinced by friends that Edmond loves her and pursues him. She finally confronts him in his office. Not a game player Edmond ethically tells her that he is simply not in love. The way in which Rohmer got into the centre of emotions and allowed his characters to be introspective was the hallmark of his films. These pictures may have been perfect college campus art house flics for the idealistic young. But they speak to anyone who has tried to grapple with the meaning of relationships.

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