Film Review: A SUMMER’S TALE


Written and Directed by Eric Rohmer

Starring: Melvil Poupaud, Amanda Langlet, Aurelia Nolin, Gwenaelle Simon

A SUMMER”S TALE was released in 1996 in France but for some reason never found a distributor in the U.S. until now. It is part of Rohmer’s TALES OF FOUR SEASONS, the other three making a US debut at the time. (Rohmer also gathered another set of earlier films into SIX MORAL TALES : CLAIRE’S KNEE, MY NIGHT AT MAUDE’S, etc.) All of his films (and there are many more) deal with the human condition and concentrate often on young people falling (or not falling) in love.

I have always been a big Rohmer fan because film makers like Rohmer were introduced to me at the right age. The audience for such films seems to have been in decline over the last quarter century. Perhaps fewer students have the luxury of taking film courses now, or perhaps such courses show more current fare.

At any rate, I have seen a lot of Rohmer films and this is a very typical one. Gaspard has finished his college studies and is soon to begin a rather dull office job. Over the month before, he takes a seaside vacation where he hopes to meet up with Lena, a girl he recently struck up a quasi-relationship with.

Although what he really wants is a summer romance and to that end he involves himself with two other girls: Margot and Solene. Both put up impediments to any romance and much of the film is spend walking the beaches in Brittany with one or the other of the girls. Each girl and Gaspard are in a undeclared negotiation over what will constitute a relationship where sex can take place. Each finds him lacking in some important way.

There is a certain tedium to the film, but that is also part of its charm. That Rohmer, quite old at the time of making this film, can still find the ways of callow youth interesting is sort of amazing. That he is willing to let the film play out with almost no drama at all is too. I recommend this film if it comes your way. If you have never seen any Rohmer it is a good introduction.

Patti Abbott