Monday, August 17, 2009
Pauline at the Beach (1983)
Eric Rohmer's commentary on the perils of summer romances starts with the opening of a gate, as recent divorcee Marion (Airelle Dombasle) and her 14 year old cousin Pauline (Amanda Langlet) escape Paris for a brief holiday - brief by French standards anyway - at the shore near Mont Saint-Michelle.
Marion, who cuts a stunning figure in a swimsuit, soon finds herself pursued by a sensitive and earnest graduate student (Pascal Gregory) and by Henri (Feodor Atkine), a charming, globe-trotting sophisticate, who also happens to be a total dick. Budding Pauline, on the other hand, refuses to rush into womanhood, as she makes it clear that she will lose her innocence at a place and time of her choosing, despite her cousin's urging and questionable advice.
Pauline takes a refreshing responsibility for her own life and actions, and often emerges as the wisest and most mature of this motley band of vacationers. Fittingly, her harmless fling with a hormonal teenage blockhead (Simon de la Brosse) serves as a catalyst for a bit of deception that ultimately reveals the true natures of Marion and her suitors.
While there are a couple of talky scenes, the film is much less dialogue-driven than is typical for this director, and he keeps the pace lively and engaging without sacrificing the relaxing Rohmer ambiance with which we've grown accustomed. The film ends with the closing of that gate from scene one and the characters amusingly disperse; each of them having gotten exactly what they deserve.
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