Sunday, 16 January 2011

A Tale of Springtime


On a dark winter's evening it's time to turn to the pile of new DVDs left by Santa! We thought we'd try Eric Rohmer on the strength of his legendary status and not having seen any of his work. So we embarked on the Tales of the Four Seasons with this offering from 1989 - A Tale of Springtime.

It is said that humour is something that does not travel between different cultures and the fact that this film is described as a comedy evidences this. It is a perfectly good film without imposing the comedy tag on it. We didn't laugh once when we watched it - we did smile, but we didn't laugh.

The film is a study in relationships and family dynamics. Jeanne is a philosophy teacher in a secondary school. She is thoughtful, open, aware of her own shortcomings and seemingly uncomplicated. With her boyfriend (whom we never see) away, she cannot bear the thought of living in his untidy flat on her own and with her flat being used by a cousin and her boyfriend a chance encounter at a party with Natacha who invites her to stay in her flat is a welcome opportunity. Natacha is an 18 year-old student at the Conservatoire de Paris and her father lives at his girlfriend's. Natacha's father (Igor) is only a few years old than Jeanne and Igor's girlfriend (Eve) is only two years older than Natacha. Natacha is resentful of her father's relationship and openly hostile towards Eve. The shadow of her divorced mother (again whom we never see) looms large over Natacha who struggles to ever be 'good enough' despite her promising musical career.

On one level the film is nothing more than a fly-on-the-wall record of this group of people's encounters over a 10 day period. On another level it provides an insightful exploration of articulate, cultured and needy people going about their lives and trying to find a sense of purpose and fulfilment in their relationships. In this respect it holds a mirror up to the viewer - to you and me. For this and not for making me laugh, this is a worthy film. I'm looking forward to A Winter's Tale.

I'll give it 7/10.

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