Yet another Eric Rohmer film with an irritating female in the lead role. It has to be Rohmer’s directing; he wants you to see conflicted modern females as preciously, worthily, troubled.
Whereas all I see is precious, useless, self-absorption.
The Felicie (Charlotte Very above) in this film has 2 current boyfriends in love with her who she doesn’t love; Loic (Herve Furic), a “sweet” but egg-headed, book-wormish, christian wop; and Maxence (Michel Voletti) – also sweet – but a jowly, portly, hairdressing wimp. And a 3rd boyfriend, absent – “Charles” – who she does love (and has a kid by) but hasn’t seen for 5 years.
I didn’t get why Loic and Maxence were bothering with or putting up with her. “What’s the attraction guys?” i kept thinking. Because i ain’t seeing any.
To be the centre of and be controlling 2 competing boyfriends you have to have magnetic attraction, be a sexual Diva; have charisma, perhaps have the charming allure of a virginal damsel (in distress)
But this woman ain’t got no charisma or charm. She’s too controlling to be distressed. And she ain’t sexy either.
Neurotic, yes. A capricious mucker about with blokes feelings, yes. “What do you want men to do? Grovel at your feet?” says poor Loic.
Probably. That’s what spoilt Princesses like her like to be happening.
A pain in the backside with all her vacillating, self-regarding, air-headededness she is.
“I love you, not enough to live with you, only to ruin your life” she says to poor old Loic.
The 2 boys (friends) indulge her in her fannying about. I suppose you could call how fickle she is whimsical. They’re too nice or “sweet” that’s their trouble. Far too tolerant ( i kept thinking)
Anyway, “her” Charles is finally returned to her life, by accident, on a bus. So she can go live all happily ever after with him.
Goodo. She’s got rewarded with what her love always wanted.
Or maybe he’ll get as fed up of her as i was eventually – and fuck off for goodo.
UPDATE: March 2017
That was a rather shittily subjective review i did there back in 2008 (Oct) Might be saying more about me (then) than the film. Lets see how I see it – see Felicie – now with hindsight, and perhaps a less partial perspective.
The opening sequence of her holiday romance with Charles neatly sets up the messy imbroglios that will mess up the next 2 hours. He was her Great Love. But they ‘lost’ one another. Now – 5 years on – and despite having 2 lovers on the go – she’s hoping he’ll return.
Her ambivalence over these 2 men – flabby hairdresser Maxence, and eggyheaded Loic – can be possibly explained, but not necessarily excused, by what didn’t happen with lover-a-lump hunk Charles. He’s got a daughter he’s never been a dad to. So, it is, that Felice feels like she has to keep her door open, just in case, he comes back.
In every Rohmer film I’ve seen, his casting of the lead actress, can either sink or swim my sympathetic engagement in the film. And unfortunately, this is one of his actresses (like Pascal Ogier in Full Moon in Paris) that switch me off (emotionally) more than turn me on (sexually). Or rather, they switch on a subconscious, and irrational, antipathy. Actually, that’s not quite right. I don’t dislike her. It’s more that I don’t like her enough to disregard her deficiencies. She’s doesn’t captivate me sufficiently to disarm what I see as the rather callous way she’s treating these 2 hapless blokes.
This is being a much better film than I gave it credit for. The psychology in it, like in all Rohmers films, is exquisitely subtle, finely nuanced, delicately emeshed; revealing, and examining, the entangled, contradictory, messy motivations that are true of real life. I’m getting inside this film like its my real life, and no longer just a film to be watched. As complex and as contradictory as life actually really is.
The way the opening sequence was presented made her love seem to have all the giddy infatuation of a holiday romance. A short-lived fling elevated into the One and Only Love. And yet she didn’t even know his last name! Or make sure how to keep in contact with him. Even more careless is her mistake, the ‘slip’, of giving him the wrong address for herself. So maybe her love was merely an inflation of the romantic idealism that got her carried away, and up the duff.
Seems to me she’s trying to sort out the type of relationship she actually wants with Maxence and Loic. Probably keep Loic as a dear friend. And have Maxence as her Friends with Benefits bloke. But both are second best. Until some other he man comes along who could ping her heart strings to shreds. The Prince Charming she believes her Charles to be.
The fickle feelings and love whims of this girl are being too indulged. She’s too precious. Or maybe she’s not precious enough, not special enough, to inhabit the self centred Princess persona she’s set herself up for.
She disgruntles Maxence by telling him she’s returning to Paris, ‘I can only live with a man I’m madly in love with’. Ok. The ‘madly in love’ she felt for Charles. That fucky fling thing she did for a few weeks 5 years ago. If I were Maxence I’d start shouting now (no, he’s far too nice and reasonable)
I suppose a more generous intepretation of how she’s being is to say she wants to live in accordance with her true feelings. There’s something commendable about her commitment to living her life in integrity, on her own terms, according to her genuinely felt heart-sense. She’s eschewing the compromise of 2nd best, stubbornly refusing to live in ‘bad faith’.
Or maybe she’s just a selfish immature girl; jerking around these 2 men, and causing them unnecessary suffering, with her confused, and confusing, fickle feelings.
Back to Paris she goes, back to Loic. He’s bringing in Pascal, and Plato, in attempt to rationalise her Moment of Realisation, her Premonition, about Charles in Nevers Cathedral. Now, we see Loics male logic v her feminine intuition. Reason v Faith.
It’s her Faith that wins in the end. She lucks out (Charles is sat there, miraculously, on the bus, opposite) She’s got given – as a gift of grace – what she had faith in, and believed, she always wanted. I’m buying it, just about.
So. I’ve invested more ‘objective’ interest in this film. I haven’t allowed myself to get carried away with superficial prejudices about spoilt Princesses.
This film has to be bumped up from a 5 to a 7. It’s been better. It’s been good.
Dir: Eric Rohmer, France