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The Caprices of Rosine or the Follies of a Fortnight:
|Didier Sandre as Etienne||Alain Libolt as Gérald|
In his review of Eric Rohmer's Conte d'automne (An Autumn Tale, 1998), Bert Cardullo draws attention to Didier Sandre's and Alain Libolt's "considerable experience" as theatrical actors (Cardullo 2004: 182), describing their diction as possessing a "classical musicality." It is true that most of Libolt's acting experience has been in the theatre; he has been in only thirteen films in forty years. His first film was Les Grands Meaulnes (The Wanderer, 1967) by Jean-Gabriel Albicocco based on Alain Fournier's novel; he also featured memorably, early in his career, in Jean-Pierre Melville's Resistance drama, L'Armée des ombres (The Army of Shadows, 1969), playing a young traitor strangled by comrades he has betrayed; and both Libolt and Rohmer also took small parts in Jacques Rivette's Out 1 (1971). While Libolt has been in only a few films, he has performed in nearly fifty plays, including work by Molière, Pirandello, Marivaux, Shakespeare, Goldoni, Ibsen, Bond, Schnitzler, and Marlowe. Similarly, most of Didier Sandre's acting experience comes from the theatre: in 1996, he won a Molière award for Best Actor for his role in Wilde's An Ideal Husband, and he has performed regularly in plays by Molière, Marivaux, Corneille, Schintzler, Feydeau, Chekhov, Ibsen, Shakespeare, Racine, and Wilde. In 1984, Libolt and Sandre worked together when Luc Bondy directed them in a staging of Arthur Schnitzler's Terre Étrangère at Nanterre's Théâtre des Amandiers.
One wonders whether Eric Rohmer saw Sandre and Libolt on stage together; given their prominence as stage actors in France, it is likely that he would have seen them on stage at some point in their careers. Furthermore, Didier Sandre has worked with other Rohmer actors on stage; in 1989, for example, he performed in Schnitzler's Le Chemin solitaire with André Dussolier, from Rohmer's Le Beau marriage (1982). Sandre also worked with the late Antoine Vitez, who played the Marxist university lecturer Vidal in Rohmer's Ma Nuit chez Maud (1969). Like Sandre and Libolt, Vitez's experience was mostly in the theatre, initially as an actor and writer, but then predominantly as a director. In 1987, Sandre played the lead in Vitez's staging of Paul Claudel's Le Soulier de Satin; before that, in 1978, Vitez directed Sandre in a series of four Molière plays: L'École des femmes, Tartuffe, Don Juan, and Le Misanthrope. This was about the time when Rohmer was himself working in the theatre; in November 1979, for instance, he directed Heinrich von Kleist's Catherine de Heilbronn for the Maison de la Culture in Nanterre. All of this makes it hard not to imagine him being familiar with Libolt and Sandre's theatrical work when he cast them as Gérald and Etienne in Conte d'automne.
Cardullo mentions Musset, Marivaux, and Feydeau as influences on Rohmer, but not Beaumarchais. It is surprising because in 1987 Didier Sandre played Count Almaviva in Beaumarchais' Le Mariage de Figaro at the Théâtre National de Chaillot in Paris. Did Rohmer see this production before he cast Sandre in Conte d'automne as Etienne, the amorous philosophy teacher in his forties, who prefers relationships with younger women? I don't know, but Rohmer hints that Beaumarchais is important to him by giving Etienne's confused former lover (Alexia Portal) the name of Rosine. Her namesake features in both Beaumarchais' Le Barbier de Séville and Le Mariage de Figaro. In Le Barbier de Séville, Count Almaviva, Figaro's future employer, is in love with a young woman called Rosine. Almaviva wants to seduce Rosine, who is the ward of Bartholo, who also wants to marry her. Almaviva pursues Rosine in Le Barbier de Séville, and she welcomes his attentions, though at one point she insists to Figaro that what she is doing is "only in friendship." Nevertheless, he successfully marries her. In Beaumarchais' sequel, Le Mariage de Figaro, Rosine is now Count Almaviva's wife, the Countess. It seems more than just coincidence that Didier Sandre, who had played Almaviva on stage, is pursuing a character called Rosine in Rohmer's film.
I do not want to overemphasize the parallels between Beaumarchais' Le Mariage de Figaro and Conte d'automne; there are many areas where the resemblance is superficial; nevertheless, the links that exist can help us to appreciate the achievement of Rohmer's film. Besides the name Rosine, both play and film use chance in a significant way; both play and film focus on marriages and relationships; both play and film compare a marriage threatened by adultery with a relationship between a couple that is also experiencing difficulties; both play and film use the form of an ensemble drama, and Rohmer's film is a major example of the ensemble film, constructed so that every detail echoes or complements other parts. Lastly, Conte d'automne uses a device that features in both Le Barbier de Séville and Le Mariage de Figaro: that of someone pretending to be someone else. Isabelle (Marie Rivière) pretends to be Magali (Béatrice Romand) to ensnare Gérald for her friend, only to fall for him herself.
|Béatrice Romand as Magali|
Conte d'automne tells a fable-like story about love and marriage amongst young and old. The lives of nine people link together like an imaginary web across the Rhône valley, with the characters' frequent journeys forming threads which criss-cross the area. At crucial points, the unexpected intertwining of different storylines creates new tensions between characters. Through chance, the characters find themselves caught in a web which they helped construct but which they cannot control. Isabelle and Rosine both plot to find Magali a man, but, as in Beaumarchais, chance intervenes to frustrate their schemes: the two schemes overlap each other, and parallel intrigues become conflicting intrigues. Rosine and Etienne's relationship is not a distraction from Conte d'automne's major focus on Isabelle and Gérald; it is a productive parallel which offers several opportunities for comparison and which deepens the drama. For if Rosine parallels Isabelle, Rosine's boyfriend, Magali's son, Léo (Stéphane Darmon), parallels Isabelle's husband, Jean-Jacques (Yves Alcaïs), and Etienne parallels Gérald. The film's two major themes — marriage and the aging process — are developed with these two parallel love triangles. In addition, in the first scene we learn that in about three weeks, Isabelle's daughter, Emilia (Aurélia Alcaïs), will marry her fiancé, Grégoire (Mathieu Davette); the marriage of the young couple provides the climactic setting for the drama. Lastly, there is the single widow Magali, the friend of both Rosine and Isabelle. These two both try to match their respective male friends, Etienne and Gérald, with Magali; and, as Maria Tortajada argues, they are "two prototypes of the mediator, important in the theatrical tradition and often represented by the confidants, servants or friends. Marivaux's theatre, for example, is full of such characters" (Tortajada 2004: 233). The irony of Conte d'automne comes from the fact that both Rosine and Isabelle's mediations between, respectively, Magali and Etienne and Magali and Gérald, are upset by chance occurrences that neither anticipate.
At the start of the film, Rohmer uses three scenes to introduce Isabelle, Magali, and Rosine. He then follows these three scenes with two separate sections, focusing first on Isabelle's scheme to find a partner for Magali and then on Rosine's scheme to do the same. In both sections, the two women conceive their plans; both sections are symmetrical in that they include talks with Magali and end as they began: Isabelle's sequence, comprising six short scenes, begins and ends with her in her bookshop; Rosine's section, comprising five scenes, begins and ends with her meeting Léo, the first time unexpectedly at a café in Avignon, the last time by design when she visits him at his flat and shocks him with her plot to match-make her ex-lover with his mother. Rohmer's structure of intertwining Isabelle and Rosine's schemes creates resonant parallels between the women, but once Rosine has told Léo of her plans, we do not see her again until the two schemes overlap. Instead, Rohmer returns to Isabelle, who, in her bookshop, reads Gérald's letter, then phones him and meets him twice for lunch. Rosine's and Isabelle's plots first intertwine when they unexpectedly meet at Magali's; Isabelle steals one of Rosine's photographs of Magali; this leads into Isabelle's arrangement to meet Gérald and her last lunch with him in Montélimar, immediately after which Rosine espies them saying goodbye. The women's activities again rhyme as they each meet a man in the same place, Montélimar, and it is there that the two schemes accidentally coincide for the second time; Rosine misinterprets what she sees, and her misinterpretation prepares us for the larger misinterpretation of Magali's stumbling across Gérald and Isabelle's embrace in the latter's living room.
Beaumarchais' Rosine has to decide between Bartholo and Count Almaviva; Rohmer's Rosine has to decide between Léo and Etienne. Le Barbier de Séville ends with Count Almaviva and Rosine in love and married; however, by the time of Le Mariage de Figaro, the Count is trying to sleep with the servant Suzanne, abandoning Rosine, his wife. The Count wants to exact the droit de seigneur, rather than return to his wife, even though he had earlier abolished this privilege when he himself got married. Etienne, like Count Almaviva in Le Barbier de Séville, declares his undying love for Rosine, but at the wedding reception he neglects her, his eye drawn to another young woman, just as in Le Mariage de Figaro, Count Almaviva neglects his Rosine.
Whereas Le Mariage de Figaro contrasts servants and masters, Conte d'automne contrasts younger and older generations. Alexia Portal's Rosine is at least twenty years younger than Sandre's Etienne, and while Isabelle and Magali represent the film's predominant concern with autumn as a metaphor for maturity and ripeness, Rosine's contrasting youthfulness sharpens the story's emphasis on characters in their middle age; as a point of comparison, Rosine marks possibilities and limitations for the married woman and the widow. Anthony R. Pugh writes of Le Mariage de Figaro's dramatic irony: "Time after time we are invited to smile at the spectacle of neat, formal balance" (Pugh 1968: 50). Such formal symmetry, Pugh argues, promotes "an attitude of amused detachment" in an audience. Similarly, the dramatic irony of Conte d'automne comes from Rohmer's use of parallels and counterpoints; pattern and design, balance and shape are crucial to establishing a response of amused detachment to the schemes of Rosine and Isabelle.
Rohmer introduces Rosine and her former lover and former philosophy teacher Etienne in the third scene of the film, following Isabelle and Magali's walk in the vineyards. This scene immediately illustrates Rosine's conflicting feelings towards her former lover. Despite Rohmer's fondness in several of his other films for written intertitles that mark the passing of time, in Conte d'automne he lets temporal continuity remain ambiguous; intertwining schemes outweigh in importance the maintenance of a strictly linear time. Therefore, the previous scene starts with Rosine leaving; Magali and Isabelle then talk about her and Etienne, introducing them for us as the opening scene had introduced Magali in her absence; the cutting from one plotter to another conveys a degree of simultaneity, and this interaction between Rosine and Etienne adds the final piece to Rohmer's overture-like introduction.
|Rosine proffers her back to Etienne|
Rosine's first words to Etienne are about the grape harvest and whether it has started: the local harvest near Etienne has begun, "since yesterday"; Magali starts her harvest, Rosine responds, next week; Etienne asks who she is, and Rosine obligingly explains that she is Léo's mother. Throughout Conte d'automne's scenes of these ex-lovers, Rohmer contrasts Rosine's verbal resistance to Etienne with her hesitant physical welcoming of his embrace: she declares that their relationship is over; he repeatedly responds tactilely; several times, she accepts his touch before pulling away. Therefore, the first time that we see them together, they stand close to each other, Etienne with his hands on his hips, Rosine with her hands perched on her pockets. She turns away from him after she introduces Magali as a topic, but, proffering her back, invites him to embrace her, which he does. Initially, Rosine smiles broadly, accepting his caresses on her bare shoulders and his kisses on her temple; yet when Etienne slides his fingers under her shoulder strap, she pulls away from him, telling him not to. For Etienne, "that was nothing"; for Rosine, it was "Too much. We made a pact."
This shoulder strap becomes a focal point for the actors' gestures in the scene, the site of Etienne's frustration and the boundary or "la frontière" that is hard to see. As they talk, they sit on a low wall, and Etienne nuzzles Rosine's neck until she challenges him to reject her accusation that he "thrives on ambiguity." He releases her, pulls his knee up, and rests his arm on it, changing his tone of voice to one more firmly declamatory. Rosine again challenges him, asking him whether ten or fifteen years would be a "reasonable" age difference between him and a younger woman. He insists, still separate from her, "I'm not hooked on young girls," then retorts, "You like older men; this year you have a toyboy." Rosine stands, replying that Léo is a "filler" and disclosing that her relationship with him will not last. Walking away from Etienne, Rosine talks about Léo and Magali, without whom, she confesses, she would have already ended the relationship with Léo. While Etienne remains sitting on the garden wall, Rosine backs onto another low wall facing him, so that she and Etienne are farther apart than at any other time during this scene. In a closer shot of Rosine seated, with Etienne's house and tidy table and chairs behind her, she declares: "I fell for her, not him." He comes to join her, sitting next to her on the wall. For the third time in this scene, Rosine walks away from him. Standing, off-screen, she continues to describe Magali, but Etienne is inattentive to her words, and when she walks back into frame to re-approach him he makes a sudden grab for her arms and asks her, "Sit on my lap." Apparently offended, Rosine turns sharply away with "No it's vulgar." The camera pans with her as she walks away from Etienne, but when she jokingly categorizes his behavior as "'Teacher seducing student,'" she voluntarily returns, as does the panning camera, to Etienne. Sitting on his lap flirtatiously, arm around his neck, she smiles warmly down at him. His eyes fix themselves on the loose strap of her vest, which has slipped provocatively down her arm, leaving bare her collar bone and shoulder.
|Etienne studies Rosine's bare shoulder|
|Rosine arches her back|
With Rosine seated on his lap, Etienne protests, "When I was your teacher, nothing happened," but Rosine insists, "You were no longer my teacher, but you still were." As she says this, she turns to look at what he has been staring at, her slipped shoulder strap; arching her back and lifting her left shoulder, she deftly hooks it back up. As Rosine adjusts her strap, her right hand hanging around his neck, Etienne curves his hand more tightly around her waist. The first physical embrace of this scene turned upon Etienne slipping his fingers underneath her shoulder strap, thus prompting Rosine's first rejection of him. Rohmer and the actors return to it, using it to dramatize the tensions between and within the characters: for Etienne, his touching of her shoulder strap had been "nothing," a frontier hard to see; for Rosine it had been "too much." When Etienne again starts running his fingers lightly along the loose strap, it prompts Rosine to get up and walk away from him, for the fifth time during this scene.
Saying one thing and doing another verifies the impression of indecisiveness that permeates Rosine's encounters with Etienne; the film's indication of her equivocal feelings towards him only develops in their subsequent scenes together. Rosine's dilemma is understandable, but Etienne also draws our sympathy, confused as he is by Rosine's to-ing and fro-ing across the boundary between love and friendship. Rosine meddles in Magali's affairs apparently selflessly, but her meddling disguises to herself the extent to which Etienne continues to attract her. She tries to bring her new friend and her ex-lover together, but to do so she must avoid the truth in Etienne's confession of interest in younger women and ignore blithely Magali's early suspicion that, because they are the same age, she will be too old for him. In her plotting, Rosine, like Isabelle, seeks a distraction from her own feelings; but, as her crotchety sulking at the wedding reception reveals, she remains capable of powerful jealousies. The film implies neither that Rosine consciously contradicts her spoken intentions nor that she will return to Etienne; but her behavior with Etienne confesses her confusion, the result of which is capriciousness. In their first scene together, the shoulder strap forms the frontier that Etienne finds hard to see: they embrace twice and, both times, Rosine proffers her back to him; Rosine breaks the contact of both embraces when Etienne starts playing with her shoulder strap, embodying as it does tantalising hints of disrobing.
When they next meet, in Montélimar, Rosine has already put into action her scheme to match Magali and Etienne. In the vineyard, Rosine helps Magali, both with the harvesting of the grapes and by taking the photographs of her that are shown to Etienne and Gérald later. When Magali and Rosine look at the photographs and talk in the garden about Etienne, Magali reluctantly agrees to Rosine's proposal that she meet Etienne, although she correctly predicts "I'm too old for him." As Magali continues to stress her scepticism, Rosine insists, "Etienne and I are finished. When I was younger, his age didn't bother me. Now it does: I want us to stay friends. That'll only happen if he loves another women." This dialogue contains the reason for Rosine's separation from Etienne and for the confused relationship between them; it also emphasizes the possibility that she loves him. Magali partially divines this because the look she gives Rosine is one of sympathetic acknowledgement; Rosine has moved from the cheerful promotion of a solution to her dilemma to what sounds like sincere regret about the end of her relationship with Etienne.
|Rosine meets Léo|
|Etienne caresses Rosine's cheek|
The contrast between her behavior with Léo and her behavior with Etienne is striking. When she meets Léo in a café opposite Avignon train station, Alexia Portal's performance tells us much about her feelings towards her boyfriend: while Etienne and Rosine connect physically and abundantly, albeit with resistance from Rosine, she avoids all physical intimacy with Léo, to the extent that while Léo and Augustine (Claire Mathurin) politely kiss goodbye, Léo and Rosine do not kiss each other at all, either when he arrives or when he departs; between the couple, tactile contact or its absence carries more gravity. Rosine's posture with her friend Augustine had been relaxed; she had even stirred her coffee in a kind of abstract way; with Léo, she crossly folds her arms tightly in front of her and leans stiffly back to look at him, unsmiling and serious. Nothing demonstrates that Rosine cares for Léo; he seems to irritate her, and we know that she has already told Etienne that if it were not for Magali she would have dropped him. In contrast, when she meets her ex-lover in Montélimar, Rosine runs up the steps and smilingly kisses the waiting Etienne hello; he wraps his arm around her and keeps it there, telling her, "If you hadn't called, I wouldn't have, but I really missed you." They touch heads; he nuzzles her, then, hesitantly, raises his other hand to encase her cheek. This is "too far" for her, and she walks out of frame, saying, "Don't." Her pulling away from him prompts a discussion about whether they can meet as friends. He approaches Rosine, who is standing by a tree, and touches her chin; but she walks away. Sitting on the wall, backed by foliage, Rosine begins to try to match Magali and Etienne by repeating, "It won't work until you've found someone."
Didier Sandre delivers a highly achieved comic performance as Etienne, the single man in his late forties who wants to preserve an illusion of his own youth or who at least wants to sustain the romantic excitements of youth. Etienne is a libertine, self-indulgently, if not selfishly pursuing younger women; but Rohmer does not condemn him, and he has two sincere speeches in the film, both to Rosine. When disappointed, Sandre's face drops in overstated despair, yet he ensures that the exaggeration remains believable as a trait of his character. As Etienne, Didier Sandre has a comic mode of expression which draws upon without fully embodying the figure of the roué. Besides Count Almaviva in Le Mariage de Figaro, a further prototype for Sandre's witty and intelligent performance is Jean-Louis Barrault's declaiming, self-dramatising poet, Robert, in Max Ophuls' La Ronde (1950), seducing the young shop girl, Anna (Odette Joyeux), even as he turns his own desire into an elaborate performance. Not only do the two men physically resemble one another, Sandre as Etienne, like Barrault as the poet, is quick to find and use words of seduction, yet careful to avoid being openly farcical, subtly suspending the cliché of the romantic lover even as he evokes it.
Sandre shows Etienne to be aware of the theatrical nature of his behavior, embracing the role of the sophisticated lover with Rosine, taking pleasure in his own drama. Rosine appreciates this far more than Léo's sulkiness. "I missed you horribly," he bemoans in a tender almost quivering voice; although it has only been a week or so, he professes with emphasis, "I sensed that I would miss you, and that idea was unsupportable to me. It feels like a reunion after a very long absence." Sandre adopts for Etienne the confident air of a Don Juan, never hesitating before declaring his affection, despite rejection, pressing on with tender words, romanticising events as they happen. Yet one needs to be in the mood or young enough to be charmed by such words; a hint of cynicism can undermine the romance; furthermore, Rosine surely knows that Etienne could easily project his desires and his seductive powers onto someone else. She walks away from him. The comedy comes from a combination of Etienne's playing of the middle-aged roué, seducing girls of twenty, but with a fifteen-year old son, and Rosine's blindness to the fact that he will not find the middle-aged Magali attractive and she will not find him attractive.
To Rosine's emphasis that their friendship will not work until he has also found someone, Etienne responds by building on the inflated romance of his earlier tender words to her and starting to sink into an exaggerated depression, "It'll take ages, months, years." The switch from seduction to gloom is comically sudden, as it was in his garden when they met previously. Sandre's morose elongation of his words broadens the humor of his downcast mood: "Ce prendra du temps et du temps, des mois, des années." He retards his delivery and lowers the pitch of his voice as he adds each phrase; "des années," enunciated slowly in a low pitch as he looks off into the distance, labors the point of his misery. He remains standing as Rosine tells him: "I may have found a woman who's interested in you." Amused and intrigued by her efforts, a sparkle in his eyes and a smile hovering on his lips, his first question is, cheerfully, "How old is she?" He joins his young ex-lover on the wall and stares at her. "A bit over forty, but she looks ten years younger," Rosine answers; he grins. Rosine shows him a photograph of Magali; "Doesn't she look like me?", she asks; but he finds only the hair, not the expression, the same. "How do you know her?"; Rosine's answer, "She's Léo's mother," shocks him into an even higher register of comic intensification. He turns away from her slowly, eyes widening and rolling, flabbergasted by her proposal. Shouting "Tu es folle!," he walks away from her. He turns to tell her that it will not work and comes to rest against a wooden post; in a grand pose of dejection, forehead resting on raised forearm, he objects, "I can't be your friend's lover." She approaches him and pulls his shoulder round so he faces her; hilariously, he cannot resist an opportunity for closeness. Placing a hand on her thigh, he declaims, "I'd long to cheat on her with you." Rosine's aim is to "dispel that longing." Like a petulant adolescent (like Rosine at the wedding), he pulls away from her and removes his hand. Resuming his pose of anguish, back to her, forehead on forearm, he sulks: "You don't care, you don't love me." "I'd love you as a friend," she says. For Etienne, her comments are only "Des mots!" He flings this phrase over his shoulder without turning his head, and his gloomy delivery climaxes his overwrought depression. Exasperated by his refusal to see her viewpoint and by the mounting resistance to her plan expressed thus far by Magali and Etienne, Rosine walks away from him, leaving Etienne sulking, still leaning his head against his arm. She sits down and repeats her threat that they will not meet until he has found another woman; but Etienne insists that her plan is "ridiculous," "a fantasy." Eventually she convinces him to agree to meet Magali, as she had convinced Magali. The scene ends with him saying: "If her son isn't present, so nothing happens."
When Rosine does tell Léo of her scheme, in the next scene, Magali's son, unaware of what Rosine has already told his mother and her ex-lover about not staying with him, finds the idea of her ex-boyfriend becoming his stepfather "monstrous." When Rosine explains that she has already shown them both photographs of the other, he is outraged; but then Rosine sidles up to Léo on the sofa to deliver her last attempt at persuasion. She judges it worth telling Léo what she must continue to tell herself: "It'd be monstrous if I was still in love with Etienne. It proves I no longer am." She tops this off with a peck on his cheek, the only sign of affection between them in the film. It is enough for Léo, who just about manages a smile as Rosine withdraws, asking, "You believe me?" By asking Léo this question, Rosine avoids asking herself the same question, and the scene ends with her question unanswered.
Once Rohmer has established Rosine's scheme as parallel to Isabelle's, he returns to Isabelle arranging to meet Gérald. They lunch three times together, and, during their third meeting, she confesses her plan to him and invites him to her daughter's wedding reception. Rohmer only breaks the rhythm of Isabelle and Gérald's clandestine lunches by inserting the scene in Magali's garden, when Isabelle visits Magali to check that Magali is coming to the wedding. It is in this scene that Isabelle invites Rosine to the wedding, thus providing the younger plotter with an opportunity to introduce Etienne and Magali. When Magali and Rosine leave Isabelle alone to get some wine, Isabelle steals the photograph of Magali to show Gérald.
|Isabelle steals the photograph|
The two schemes are at odds with each other: they do not yet collide but they will shortly, almost preventing the success of either one. The trouble begins after Gérald and Isabelle have finished their third lunch, in Montélimar. Outside the Garden Café, the camera performs one of the film's most extravagant flourishes, panning from the café's frontage to find, in long shot, Etienne and Rosine walking down a narrow street. Smoothly linking the two women's plots, Rohmer matches the dialogue, connecting Isabelle persuading Gérald to come to Emilia's wedding to meet Magali with Rosine persuading Etienne to come to the same wedding to meet the same woman. Etienne thinks, "It's embarrassing to show up uninvited"; but Rosine argues, "No one will ask you" and "I can bring who I want"; Léo is "going with his mother." As they reach the end of the street, they see Gérald and Isabelle talking briefly and saying goodbye. The slow pan opens up to our view the structure of the film, makes it visible yet also marks what we do not hear. During this intertwining of Isabelle's plot with Rosine's plot, Rosine misinterprets what she sees, although her misinterpretation, imagining a polite goodbye to carry more romantic undercurrents, anticipates Magali's when the latter opens the living room door in Isabelle's house and sees an embrace between Isabelle and Gérald. The irony is that while she and Magali will later be told nothing exists between Isabelle and Gérald, we have had privileged access to their meetings and might suspect that both Rosine's and Magali's interpretations are accurate. Furthermore, while Rosine tells Magali that she saw Isabelle and Gérald in Montélimar, Isabelle later tells Gérald that she also saw Rosine seeing them, something of which Rosine remains unaware.
|Rosine and Etienne walk together|
|Rosine and Etienne espy Isabelle and Gérald|
This network of parallels develops perspectives unavailable to the characters and invites us to disengage from their entangled schemes and compare Rosine and Isabelle. By moving from one scheme to another, from one plotter to another, the pan from café to street achieves a controlled and visible set change, the equivalent of stagehands moving scenery in the middle of a play with the house lights up; as a transition, it brings to attention the similarity of the two schemes to match Magali with a man, conveys a sense of "meanwhile" and invites us to "look over here." The geographical closeness of the two plotters' actions also emphasizes the similarity of their motivations for fixing up Magali. The camera pans unhurriedly but firmly, slowing before stopping, knowing what it looks for and finding what it expected to find, Etienne and Rosine. Rohmer follows the pan with a traveling shot that dollies backwards as Rosine and Etienne walk towards the camera and down the street, framed throughout in the diminishing perspective of the background. The two actors have to walk close together to stay within the frame in the centre of the street — pavements and walls provide perspective at their sides; but, physically, their togetherness produces their harmony. Rosine pushes her bicycle, and Etienne carries his briefcase; as they walk, their inside arms and shoulders brush together eight times, nestling their bodies together much as the engaged couple Emilia and Grégoire did in the opening scene. Their physical closeness indicates their continuing attraction to each other despite Rosine's efforts to force them apart. Just as Rohmer's framing and the actors' performances unite them, their costumes harmonize them, their black and dark brown clothes unifying them while separating them from the pale walls around them. Furthermore, throughout their brief walk and conversation, Rosine responds to Etienne's humor with admiring glances and easy laughter. When he offers as an excuse for not attending the wedding the fact that he taught Emilia, she asks, "Did you chase after her?" "Of course," he responds jokingly, though with enough seriousness and enough of a reputation for her to be unsure. He chuckles, continuing, "She wasn't interested"; in a hushed, even shocked tone, Rosine gasps, "Is it true?" Didier Sandre drags out in his humorous long-vowelled way, "Mais non." Rosine laughs again, charmed by her ex-lover. The scene finishes after Rosine sees the other couple. As they huddle together, Etienne smilingly says, "We're hardly a secret," but Rosine's imagination works on another subject.
My last example of the film's handling of Rosine and Etienne's relationship comes from the wedding reception, where the intrigue reaches its climax. First of all, Gérald and Magali meet and get on well. Unfortunately, at the most inopportune moment, Rosine distracts Magali by calling her away through the crowd. Magali asks Gérald, "Do you mind?" "Not at all," he replies, though disappointment crosses both their faces as she leaves. As Magali walks away from the buffet table and from Gérald, she continues to look behind at him, maintaining eye contact as she eases through the crowd. In passing, her red top matches another woman's red skirt and jacket; this costume also stands out from the crowd, and it will help orientate us within it in a few moments. Magali greets Rosine, who extracts her from the crowd; but Gérald lingers for a moment, looking up to see if Magali might return. He then places his glass on the table and crosses his arms.
|Gérald meets Magali in a crowd near the buffet|
One feature of Rohmer's art is his controlled use of settings to add expressive dimensions to his characters' actions. In the two comparable conclusions to Isabelle's scheme and Rosine's scheme, that is, Magali's meetings with first Gérald and then Etienne, Rohmer makes a formidably striking contrast between the two events through his use of a crowded space and an empty space. When Gérald meets Magali, the crowd protects them from views, insulates them and integrates them into jovial surroundings; they naturally find themselves standing close together in a crowd that presses around them as they talk. Behind Magali, Gérald, and the other guests are dark velvety green bushes and trees which enclose the space and provide Magali with the kind of backdrop in front of which the film repeatedly frames her. To get next to Magali at the buffet table, Gérald has to wedge himself between other guests. He even bumps into someone as he turns abruptly to lead with his shoulder, his apology then drawing Magali's eye to him. As they talk, they face each other closely within the crowd, Gérald resting on the table with his back angled to the camera, Magali with one hand on her hip, the other shading her eyes.
In contrast, the open space into which Rosine drags Magali emphasizes the awkward artificiality of her introduction of Magali to Etienne. The informal jostling at the buffet that preceded Magali and Gérald's conversation is absent; instead, Rosine pushes Magali and Etienne together on a wide, level, and open expanse of lawn that serves as an exposed stage. Rosine skips out onto the empty lawn, dragging Magali by the hand behind her; and while Rosine holds her head up, beaming as Etienne approaches, Magali looks glum and ill at ease. When Rosine interrupts Gérald and Magali by the buffet, she does not suspect that anything untoward is taking place, as she had when she saw Gérald and Isabelle in Montélimar, nor does it occur to her that she might be interrupting Magali against the latter's wishes; her failure to notice that her friend is happily engaged in conversation indicates again that Rosine's attempts to fix up Magali with Etienne helps her more than it helps Magali.
For this contrasting introduction, Rohmer dresses Etienne in a loose-fitting cream linen suit that emphasizes the dandy in his character yet also makes him appear colorless; Rosine similarly wears her least becoming outfit so far, a peach-colored dress that does not suit her pale skin and makes her look washed out next to the rich dark colors worn by Magali. When an attractive young woman draws Etienne's eyes during this scene, Rohmer highlights her importance by dressing her in a bright red dress that separates her from the crowd. While Rosine, Etienne, and Magali stand in the foreground, Rohmer frames the shots with enough depth-of-field to reveal the young woman in red, just visible in the distance behind Etienne's right shoulder. The young woman in red, with whom Etienne later talks, sits at one table at the foot of the small embankment which forms the backdrop for the frame. When Rosine introduces her friend to her ex-lover, Magali is grumpy with Etienne, though she recovers herself enough to extend her hand, nod her head forward a little and say, "Bonjour" without smiling. Her head dips only marginally but the movement resembles a bow, albeit a mocking, satirical one; the formality of her response underlines her resentment at being interrupted while talking to Gérald. Etienne also performs a small bow as he shakes her hand. Béatrice Romand then adopts her deeply humorous and sarcastic tone of voice, pouting as she slowly enunciates: "Vous êtes son prof-e-sseur. J'ai vu ce pho-to [You're her teacher. I've seen photos of you]." Romand eliminates any rising or falling in her voice as she pronounces each syllable without sincerity, taking pleasure in her own irony: Magali knows that Etienne is Rosine's former lover, and Etienne knows that she knows. Sensing Magali's tone, he responds curtly: "I was."
Rosine's former teacher turns towards the camera, revealing his full dandy's costume: white shoes, white shirt, and cream tie match his cream suit. After Magali's comment, though, he looks deflated, as if already aware that his charm will not work with her; his dejected mood contrasts noticeably with his quick-witted joking with Rosine as they walked together in Montélimar. After Etienne says that he was her teacher, Magali steps between Rosine and Etienne so that the three of them stand grouped uneasily together. Rosine makes conversation by telling Magali that her place is nicer; Etienne joins in, "It's in the Ardèche, no?" "Oui," Magali drawls. "It's certainly a lot wilder," Etienne politely adds; but Magali snaps back bad-temperedly, "Sauvage, non. C'est cultivé. C'est la vrai campagne." Magali's ill-humor defeats Etienne's efforts; and he gives up and eyes the ground as an uncomfortable silence descends; even Rosine's smile drops. She looks around the garden behind them, searching the guests scattered in the background until she sees someone she knows. Using this as an excuse, she leaves Etienne and Magali to talk. Etienne looks anxiously after Rosine as she walks away, alarmed already by Magali's hostility.
As Rosine greets her friend, Etienne and Magali's conversation dries up: Magali looks stony-faced; Etienne shifts his weight restlessly and nervously adjusts his jacket, gently clasping his lapel and pulling it down (again, Didier Sandre gives a tremendously comic performance). When Rosine rejoins them, she asks Magali, "Sorry that you came?" She says no, but she starts talking about leaving; while saying this, she walks away from Rosine and Etienne towards a large bush that offers a protective backdrop of familiar greens to show off her garnet top. In doing this, she distances herself from Etienne and removes herself from the exposed foreground of the empty lawn. Rosine joins her. With her arms folded and biting her lip, Rosine looks across to Etienne. Magali looks closely at her and then, picking up Rosine's sightline, looks off-screen in the direction of Etienne. Magali's curiosity about what Rosine is looking at matches our own. Rohmer sates it by cutting to a long shot of the young woman in red waving at Etienne, who stands with his back to the camera in the clearing. He returns her wave, and Rohmer cuts back to Rosine and Magali by the bush.
|First position: Rosine and Magali near the bush|
|Second position: Rosine and Magali rejoin Etienne|
|Third position: Rosine and Etienne watch Magali leave|
|Fourth position: Rosine nudges Etienne's shoulder|
|Fifth position: Etienne turns to look at the young woman in red, while Rosine looks the other way|
|Sixth position: the extravagant greeting, centre-stage|
|Seventh position: Rosine sulks|
The shot that begins when Rohmer cuts back to Rosine and Magali, after Etienne has returned the wave to the young woman in red, concludes Magali's brief meeting with Etienne; it is one of Rohmer's most intricately expressive shots, using seven different framings to convey the complexity of the situation which Rosine is trying but failing to control. It begins with Rosine rocking forwards and backwards as she simultaneously keeps an eye on her ex-lover. Magali, with her red top, blue denim skirt, and dark skin and hair, is strikingly marked against the overwhelmingly green colors of the grass, bushes, and trees of the background; Rosine in a dress that is virtually the same color as her skin has almost no definition next to her older friend. Magali has evidently noted Rosine's interest in her former lover's behavior for she asks pointedly about Rosine's current boyfriend, her son: "Have you seen Léo? He's disappeared." Léo has all but disappeared from our view and Rosine's; she seems wholly uninterested in him, and while checking up on Etienne, looking constantly over Magali's shoulder. she replies distractedly, "He went to watch a football match on TV at a friend's house." Magali is surprised, and she asks angrily how her son left. It turns out her son took her car: this infuriates Magali, but Rosine grasps the opportunity to distract Etienne from his interest in her rival. She calls out to him, then grabs Magali's wrist and again drags her towards Etienne.
When she pulls Magali back towards Etienne, the camera pans right to frame them. In the shot's second position, they rejoin Etienne, and the camera frames the three characters: Magali holds her back to the camera, Rosine and Etienne face each other, and in the background on the right sits the young woman in red, visible at his shoulder, her small patch of red off set by an opposing patch of red to the left of Rosine. The small splashes of red in the background intensify our attention to the frame, drawing our eye to people only apparently on the periphery. Rosine tells Magali, "Etienne can drive you home," but the latter twists her wrist out of Rosine's hand and hides her hands firmly behind her. She then says slowly, with little attempt to cover her sudden change of mind, "I can stay another hour or maybe two." Rosine steps away from the pair, but too slowly; Magali has already found an excuse to leave, which is also an excuse to look for Gérald in the place where they met: "Are you hungry? I'm going back to the buffet. Do you mind?" She walks away from them.
The third position of the shot offers, therefore, a medium framing of Etienne and Rosine, united in their pale colors, but with the young woman in red on their right in the background. For the fourth position, a close two-shot of the pair, Etienne and Rosine walk slowly towards the camera and talk intimately, with only their heads and shoulders visible. Rosine proposes naively, "She's in a bad mood"; but Etienne speaks more insightfully, "She's not interested in me." Rosine thinks that not being interested in Etienne is "bizarre," and she nudges Etienne's shoulder gently with her own. Etienne replies, "Hmmm" and, creating a fifth position, turns to touch his head affectionately with Rosine's, acknowledging their mutual intimacy. Yet Etienne's movement opens up a gap between them in the shot, through which, in the background, the young woman in red can be seen turning in her chair to wave at Etienne. His eyes are drawn to her, and he asks Rosine what Magali asked them a moment ago, "Do you mind?" Rohmer's repetition of the phrase "Do you mind?", asked three times in quick succession as someone leaves an encounter, alerts us to the similarity in the sequence of interrupted encounters and therefore the irony. Gérald and Magali talk; Rosine interrupts them and takes Magali away to meet Etienne. While Magali and Rosine discuss Léo taking Magali's car, Rosine notices Etienne's interest in his former student. This spurs her on to try once more to unite Etienne and Magali, encouraging Magali to accept a lift home from Etienne; but Magali refuses and leaves to look for Gérald near the buffet. Rosine does not understand Magali's bad mood, but an intimate moment with Etienne consoles her. Once again, her talking about Magali with Etienne sustains their ambiguous post-relationship friendship. Her happiness is short-lived though; Etienne looks towards the woman in red and, making his excuses, he abandons Rosine.
The simultaneity of these actions testifies to the precision of Rohmer's staging: Rosine smiles broadly at her renewed closeness to Etienne just when he, unnoticed by her, eyes up her rival. Rohmer's filming of this setting emphasizes the stage-like qualities of the space, with all parts of it used, front, back and sides. Throughout this shot, the embankment behind the diners in the background combines with the empty lawn to turn the space into a theatre for Magali, Rosine, and Etienne. When Etienne and Rosine approach the camera to talk in a close shot, they move as if to the front of a stage to talk quietly to their audience; yet during their apparently intimate conversation we see the young woman in red waiting in the background for her cue to walk onto stage and interrupt Rosine and Etienne. The movement of Etienne's head towards Rosine's head renews their contact, but allows him to see his next potential conquest. In the sixth position of this shot, Etienne walks to the background and extravagantly greets and embraces the young woman in red, who has jumped up enthusiastically from her table. In a wonderful conclusion to this shot, Rosine, in a close shot on the left foreground, retreats out of frame as she turns to watch her rival and her ex-lover. She then sulkily passes the camera, in a close shot, looking annoyed and frustrated. The passage ends when Rohmer cuts from the open green stage-like frame, with Etienne and the young woman in red in the background, to Magali surrounded by a crowd of people near the buffet.
Rohmer films Magali looking for Gérald with two hand-held shots that follow her closely as she edges through the crowd. The use of a highly mobile camera is rare in Rohmer's films, and it powerfully conveys Magali's feelings of latent desperation. The mobile framing contrasts instantly with the formal staging of the previous shot, with its wide, open, and level space and its controlled use of foreground and background. The crowd near the buffet has thickened since she and Gérald talked, and Rohmer's filming of it emphasizes the change in her experience of it, from jovial welcoming to threatening loneliness; the urgent movements of the camera as it follows Magali's worried face represent her anxiety. She does not find Gérald, and from this scene of anxiety, Rohmer cuts to a still frame, an empty corridor from inside the house, the edit suggesting two parallel actions and another level of irony: while Magali looks for Gérald outside, he looks for Isabelle inside. Rohmer holds the shot of the empty corridor for a couple of seconds, achieving a beautiful rhythm in the transition from Magali looking for Gérald outside, followed by the hand-held camera, to the still framing of the corridor, empty of movement until Gérald looks round the doorway, his steady though hesitant searching contrasting with Magali's openly anxious looking. This is the scene in which Gérald and Isabelle come closest to admitting their desire for each other; it would require a separate essay to discuss adequately its intricate dance of retreat and advancement. However, before I end this essay on the film's use of parallels, I want to remark on its use of settings.
|Isabelle embraces Gérald|
When Isabelle embraces Gérald a fraction longer than is necessary to say goodbye and wish him luck, Magali opens the door behind them and sees Gérald in the arms of her best friend. Neither Gérald nor Isabelle notice Magali, but they hear the door and immediately separate, behaving guiltily. She tells him to go to find Magali and sends him out of the door that just opened, closing it after him, then standing briefly with her back against it, before she walks out of frame. Rohmer ends the scene with this shot of the closed door, holding it for a couple of seconds, drawing its role to our attention. Conte d'automne is all about being outside at autumn, but it is also a film of interiors, in which Rohmer frames and sets his scenes with the same attention to their meaning that he gives to his use of the landscapes.  He draws broadly on two traditions in his use of domestic interiors. Firstly, he uses houses as expressive contexts for his characters, although he does not stress that domestic settings trap his characters. Secondly, the living room or drawing room where Gérald and Isabelle talk and then embrace calls to mind the setting of a farce. When Magali looks through the door and unexpectedly interrupts the embrace between her married friend and the man she has just met, Rohmer evokes the tradition of theatrical comedy, with its core components of coincidences, chances, exits, entries, and surprise meetings, of doors being opened and people seeing what that they should not.
The crossing of thresholds can commemorate occasions; entrances and exits can be welcomed: traditionally, Emilia and Grégoire's leaving of the church would be followed some time later with his symbolically charged carrying of her over their own home's threshold. Doorways indicate boundaries or frontiers between people, between private and public spaces. In Conte d'automne, Rohmer fully exploits the dramatic opportunities offered by doorways, walls, windows, and corridors, what Adrian Poole, referring to Henry James' dramatic use of them, calls "dividing membranes." Poole writes: "However thick or thin these dividing membranes, they offer such intriguing resistance that the imagination becomes more attached to them and their appurtenances than to what lies beyond them, inside or outside" (Poole 1991: 29). Both anxieties and desires, Poole argues, affix themselves to doorways.
|Gérald stands between Isabelle and Magali in the doorway to Isabelle's bedroom|
Magali opens the door on Gérald and Isabelle and assumes that a parting, friendly embrace is a loving continuation of an adulterous affair; she catches them in an embrace that might "compromise" Isabelle. After Magali opens and then closes the door, Isabelle reverts to her role as good Samaritan for her friend: restraining herself, she retreats from an entanglement with Gérald, turning away from him and the opportunity that his embrace embodies. Furthermore, when Gérald returns to Isabelle's house, finding Magali and Isabelle, Rohmer stages this scene in the doorway of Isabelle's bedroom, with Gérald hesitating between the two women. Her bedroom doorway begins and ends the scene and becomes a focal point of transition and negotiation amongst the three characters. When it becomes obvious to Isabelle that he and Magali get on well, Isabelle recognizes her intrusive stance and withdraws from the frame. She resigns herself to her role as matchmaker and accepts that she must step back from involvement with them, retreating, perhaps reluctantly, into her bedroom and returning to her role as married woman. The final frames of the film hint that regret mingles with relief.
The crowd that surrounded Gérald and Magali's meeting endowed the scene with the hubbub of a warm, enveloping party, though the same crowd appeared to Magali as an impenetrable mass when she searched for Gérald, as if it was incapable of absorbing a single widow. The stage-like setting of empty lawn exposed the awkwardness of Rosine's pushing together of Magali and Etienne. In contrast, Gérald and Isabelle meet and embrace indoors; inside Isabelle's living room, the couple find privacy. Whereas outside in the public space of the party Rosine interrupts Magali and Gérald without thinking anything of it, inside the house Magali's interruption appears as an intrusion; for this reason she retreats. If she had come across them embracing outside in the garden, politely and customarily greeting or parting, Magali might not feel as if she were intruding upon a private encounter. The interior setting allows the door to open suddenly, surprising the pair.
Isabelle's home provides the setting for her private meeting with Gérald, and she is as strongly associated with it as Magali is with her vineyard; Isabelle's spotless, white fitted kitchen, for instance, contrasts radically with Magali's rural, cottage kitchen. The décor of her house is predominantly cream or yellow in color; the pale cream walls of the living room, the yellow door which Magali opens, the yellow curtains and table cloth of the dining room, the yellow architrave around the doors, all of these form elegantly designed rhyming patterns with the dominant colors associated with Isabelle: the blondness of her hair, the gold jewelry she wears, the white jeans and blouses, the navy blue jackets, or the black and white bag she carries. Everything associated with Isabelle is either crisply clean and elegant or warmly sunny and golden. At the same time, she lives in this house with her husband, Jean-Jacques. Her embrace with Gérald in an ambiguously affectionate way borders on a violation of her marriage vows; even though she claims afterwards to Gérald and later to Magali that the embrace means nothing, the possibility remains that if her husband had opened the door, she would have been even more "compromised."
Compared with Isabelle's situation, Rosine's problems with Etienne and Léo are more straightforward, but the film still resolves them movingly. When the evening darkness settles, the dancing and the music gather pace and volume; an accordionist plays in a lively manner as the young woman in the red dress dances vivaciously with two young men. She glances off from the dance floor, and a reverse-shot shows the object of her attentions: Etienne sits, smiling and relaxing, leaning back holding a glass of wine and accepting the woman's glances; beside him, Rosine sulks, fiddling with her hair while she watches Etienne watching her rival. Rosine comments sarcastically, "You always have good taste. She's lovely"; caught off guard, Etienne answers innocently, failing to hear her sarcasm: "A former student. A very bright girl. Studying for her Masters. She asked me..."; but Rosine anticipates him and finishes his sentence, "for some advice. I know." On this, Etienne stands to leave, offering her a lift home. On their way out, they bump into Léo, who has returned in his mother's car. Understandably, he is surprised that his girlfriend is leaving with her ex-lover, and he asks why she is going; Rosine offers as an excuse that Etienne was leaving and, anyway, she is going to stay at her parents. They kiss goodbye briefly, and she wishes him a nice evening.
Inside Etienne's car, in a dark profile shot of them, Etienne and Rosine are in the middle of arguing about his brief meeting with Magali: "Why am I to blame?" Etienne asks; "Maybe I was distant. But she started it before I'd opened my mouth." He wants to know what she said about him, but then observes, "It'll be hard getting over you." Rosine's response is to say bitterly, "hypocrite — and the girl in red? You'd rather talk to her than a woman." Rosine's response seems appropriate, but Etienne's argument is persuasive also, though he speaks angrily; as Rosine listens, tears glisten in her eyes. Rohmer gives him the last word, a stinging criticism given their age difference: "It was a nice idea to match-make people you like. Very nice, but childish. I went along — see what happened? You can't force people to fall in love." The scene ends with a moment that eloquently ends the film's concern with Rosine and Etienne and fixes a haunting pause in the story's progression: silence lingers in the car after Etienne's comment; only the noise of the car on the road can be heard; a headlight reflects on the window as another car passes, and the shot draws out the effect for a moment. The effect resembles a dissolve between related images; it allows for a breath before a cut takes us to Magali. She sits alone on the dark platform looking sad, waiting for a train. The transition to Magali links Etienne and Rosine's discussion with its subject, the person whom Rosine has been trying to force to fall in love. The poignant question that extends into the pause is: will Etienne be proved right or wrong? It is significant that the film introduces a feeling of doubt, if not sadness, into this moment and its question about Isabelle, Magali, and Gérard.
Conte d'automne opposes different characters, a single and a married woman, a younger plotter and an older plotter. As in all works of art, parallels are a powerful way for an artist to make suggestions about characters' behavior. Rosine's scheming to match Etienne with Magali parallels Isabelle's scheming to match Gérald with Magali; both schemers find their plans upset by things they did not anticipate: Isabelle feels attracted to Gérald; Rosine discovers her feelings towards Etienne are unresolved. Although she repeatedly declares (to Etienne, Magali, and Léo) that her relationship with Etienne is over, at the moment when her plan to unite Etienne and Magali collapses (partly because Magali resents Rosine's interruption of her conversation with Gérald; partly because of incompatibility), Rosine experiences an uncomfortable sensation of jealousy as she witnesses Etienne's attentiveness to the young woman in the red dress. Like Beaumarchais' Le Mariage de Figaro, Rohmer's film uses a symmetrical grouping of characters to allow us to make comparisons between two schemers: masters and servants in the play; younger and older generations in the film. Of course, it is not just Beaumarchais, but, as Cardullo indicates, the general tradition of French theatrical comedy on which Rohmer draws. In that aspect, Rohmer's Conte d'automne bears comparison with Renoir's La Règle du jeu. Alexander Sesonske (1980: 388-393) describes how Musset's Les Caprices de Marianne, Marivaux's Le Jeu de l'amour et du hasard, and Beaumarchais' Le Mariage de Figaro were influences on Renoir's development of the script for La Règle du jeu. He writes of Marivaux: "Within a symmetrical grouping of masters and servants typical of the commedia, Marivaux brings to the fore young people whose sole preoccupation is love and fastens his attention on the growth of love in society. The adoption of mask or disguise is frequent" (Sesonske 1980: 390). This description of Marivaux could equally apply to Rohmer's films. The difference is that whereas the theatrical comedies on which Rohmer draws show love "in a context where desire is generally subordinated to the maintenance of the social order" (Sesonske 1980: 390), there is apparently no conflict between love and the rules of society in Conte d'automne — all the characters feel free to do as they like and pursue their own desires; no scandal attaches to Rosine's relationship with Etienne and Isabelle could divorce Jean-Jacques and marry Gérald. However, although no obvious rules oppress the characters, doubts, hesitations, and anxieties characterize their feelings. Rohmer's brilliance lies in the way that he films these equivocal feelings.
issue #2 (7.2006)