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Old 04-30-2009, 03:55 PM
Eric Rohmer's A Winter's Tale

A Winter's Tale (1992)

Eric Rohmer's "A Winter's Tale" attempts to be a story about a woman who is trying to find a special someone that she lost awhile ago, though we never she her actually attempting to find him. She tries to fill this void in her life with other relationships but is never able to settle down with anyone because of that special time she shared with one man five years before the story begins.

The film opens as Félicie (Charlotte Véry) is having a fling with Charles (Frédéric van den Driessche). When it comes time for Félicie to leave, she accidentally gives Charles the wrong address, and is therefore is not able to get in contact with him again. Five years later, we discover that she had a daughter, Elise (Ava Loraschi), with Charles and is now in a relationship with Loic (Hervé Furic). It turns out she is planning to move to another city with another man, Maxence (Michel Voletti), to be a hairstylist in his new shop. However, it turns out this relationship isn't working out so well either.

The main problem this movie has lies in its main character, Félicie. Her character comes off as very flat due to her fickleness and hypocrisy. She allows the fling she had with Charles to get in the way of her ever being satisfied enough to be with another man. She continually uses the excuse that she doesn't love people enough to be with them, yet she obviously has some kind of emotional attachment to them.

Félicie makes her choices in about a split second without thinking anything through first. She decides to go with Maxence to Nevers, a city in France, after hearing his proposal for her to work in his shop, but then, the very next day she decides to return to Paris. Upon her return, she almost immediately hooks back up with Loic, even going so far as to say she'd like to sleep with him, but that she would go right to sleep.

All of these problems with the character made it very hard to form any kind of attachment with her or feel any sympathy for her. It became ironic that Rohmer included a scene from Shakespeare's "The Winter's Tale," where a statue comes to life. This scene ends up eliciting more emotion than the rest of the film in which Félicie seems nothing more than a statue unable to truly love. If she was going to allow her fling with Charles to ruin any chance of her being happy, then she should have looked a lot harder than she did. The most she tells us of her search is that she went to the city she accidentally told him and searched the address and post office for any sign that he had been there. After this, she apparently never tried to find him again and instead just hoped that he would show up one day.

Aside from these problems, the pacing in the film left much to be desired. There were several scenes that felt like they didn't need to be there, while others just went on way longer than they needed to. Two examples of this are the philosophical debates that the characters get into that don't really go anywhere or have much to do with anything except to prove that Loic is an egghead, which Félicie complains is not her type.

About halfway through the film, I began dreading what the ending would have in store. I thought of the most contrived ending that could possibly happen, and low and behold, that's exactly what ends up happening. A chance encounter with you-know-who on a bus that leads to a completely forced happy ending.

That kind of ending doesn't work well for a film like this at all. Any sympathy that Rohmer had built up for his character (which again was practically non-existent anyway) goes right out the window when you force a happy ending on them and on the audience. A similar ending could have possibly worked and not felt so contrived if Félicie had gone out and found her lost love instead of it being a random encounter. Perhaps Rohmer just didn't have the guts to say that things don't always end up the way people want them to.

This film was still shot beautifully but was really lacking when it came to its story and characters. This is only my first film from director Eric Rohmer, so I can't condemn him completely yet. This is one of four films that Rohmer made contained in his "Four Seasons" series. Perhaps the others are better, though many people have said that this is the best one, which doesn't exactly bode well for the other three. 2/4 stars.
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