Tuesday, May 15, 2012

850. Conte d'hiver/A Tale of Winter (1992)

Running Time: 114 minutes
Directed By: Eric Rohmer
Written By: Eric Rohmer
Main Cast: Charlotte Very, Frederic van den Driessche, Michel Voletti, Herve Furic, Ava Loraschi
Click here to view the trailer


Last night, I began another search on YouTube for some of the films that still grace my "unfound" list (a list of films from THE BOOK that I still can't find, which currently sits at, at least, one hundred strong) and came upon "A Tale of Winter", directed by Eric Rohmer. I decided to give it a watch before it disappeared.

The film begins with a beautiful score, accompanying a montage of scenes of a couple enjoying time together at the beach, making love and being in love. When the montage comes to an end, we see the couple saying their goodbyes to one another, Felicie (Very) going back to Paris and Charles (van den Driessche) off to work as a chef in a restaurant. Felicie gives Charles her address and he promises to write. Fast forward five years later and Felicie is still in Paris, now with a daughter, Elise (Loraschi), working as a stylist in Maxence's Salon. Elise belongs to Charles but he doesn't know she exists and due to Felicie giving Charles the wrong address - a slip of the tongue - she hasn't seen him since they departed. However, her heart still belongs to him and she yearns for the day that they'll reunite and her family will be complete. She keeps Charles' picture in her Elise's room, so that she recognizes her father. Meanwhile, Felicie is living with her mother and holding down two suitors: Maxence (Voletti) of Maxence's Salon and Loic (Furic), a religious, philosophical librarian. At first, she decides that she'll move to Nevers with Maxence, where he'll open up a new salon and she'll be the boss. The two, along with Elise, go to Nevers, but after a day Felicie decides that she's made a mistake and briskly returns to Paris. She returns to Loic, who seems to love Felicie and in fact, seems to love her so much that he puts up with her ever changing mind and her head games. Felicie really doesn't know what she wants with her current suitors, whether she wants to be friends or lovers. What she does know is that she wants Charles to return to her.

Felicie and Charles
At times, "A Tale of Winter" reminded me of "My Night at Maud's", a movie that I watched last 100 and one that made the cut of my last TOP 20 list. It involved people, their relationships and the topics discussed amongst the characters often reached religious and philosophical bounds. However, in "A Tale of Winter" the characters, most notably the main character of Felicie, wasn't an intelligent one. In fact, she came off as quite dumb and at times, I had a hard time sympathizing with her. She seemed to lack both book sense and common sense and was such a confused woman, that her confusion was almost maddening to this viewer. In fact, the character that I sympathized with the most was Loic. He seemed to be the one that got the most heartache out of the whole situation, being there for Felicie at her beckon call and being promptly tossed into the gutter by her not once, but twice. He was the type of guy who was always going to return to Felicie no matter how many times she walked all over him and she was never going to give her heart to him. He was just her "go to guy", her shoulder to cry on. Maxence had more of a rugged personality and even though Felicie treated him the same way, he came off as kind of a jerk, so I didn't feel as sorry for him.

Felicie and Loic

I can't say I was all that pleased with the ending either. Like I said, the character of Felicie wasn't one that I sympathized with in the least, so to see her get Charles back in the end wasn't necessarily a happy ending for me. It's not that I didn't see Charles' return coming, it's just that I wish it had been executed differently and I wish Rohmer had made the character of Felicie more sympathetic. Why would we, the viewer, want to see her get her way after the way she treated her other lovers? Am I wrong or did the whole ending hinge on Felicie's faith and perhaps the prayer that Loic gave when Felicie forced him to go to mass, Felicie asking him to pray as if he were her and ask for what she'd want, even if it would hurt him. Perhaps Loic was a man of strong faith and perhaps he asked for Charles' return, so that Felicie could be happy. In fact, perhaps the ending isn't so happy. Perhaps Loic was the man for Felicie, but she couldn't see it because she was so fixed on someday finding Charles that she was never going to settle for anyone else. Felicie was blinded by her crush, a man she only spent a vacation with and she wasn't bright enough to forget her crush, open her eyes and see that true love was already there, in the form of Loic.

Felicie and Maxence
Anyway, I did enjoy the movie. With each French film I see, I warm up to them more and more. I think that French filmmaker's excel on so many levels, including dialogue, character development, mood and atmosphere. Their plots aren't always as gripping as they could be, but I've learned throughout my journey that there are more important things. "A Tale of Winter" has interesting characters, interesting situations and does a fine job of showing off the French landscapes. It provided this viewer with some gripping dialogue, that, unlike "My Night at Maud's", didn't often go over my head. Rohmer is quickly becoming a favorite of mine and I can't wait to someday check out the rest of his catalog. In fact, I wish the other three installments of his Tales of the Four Seasons were included in THE BOOK, so that I could watch them right away and compare them. As it is, however, they'll have to wait until I get some free time.

RATING: 8/10  It had '10' potential, but didn't quite get there. By the way, expect about five more of these "It Came from YouTube" posts before I wrap up this 100.


May 15, 2012  2:12am

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