DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
SUMMER (Rayon vert, Le) (director/writer: Eric Rohmer; screenwriter: Marie Rivière; cinematographer: Sophie Maintigneux; editor: María Luisa García; music: Jean-Louis Valéro; cast: Marie Rivière (Delphine), Vincent Gauthier (Jacques in Biarritz), Carita (Lena in Biarritz), Sylvie Richez (Sylvie in Paris), Béatrice Romand (Beatrice in Paris), Lisa Hérédia (Manuella in Paris); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Margaret Ménégoz; Fox Lorber; 1986-France-in French with English subtitles)

 
"The well-constructed film is almost completely improvised and has an almost effortless feel to it."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Director-writer Eric Rohmer (" My Night With Maud"/"Boyfriends and Girlfriends"/"Chloe in the Afternoon") offers another pleasing entry (the fifth) into his ‘Comedies et Proverbes’ series. This one focuses on Delphine (Marie Rivière), an ordinary lovelorn Parisian secretary who goes on a July/August vacation to three different spots alone when she can't find anyone else to join her and finds no fun until a believable adult fairy-tale ending. It's cowritten by star Marie Rivière, who paints a brooding portrait of loneliness. The well-constructed film is almost completely improvised and has an almost effortless feel to it. It certainly does justice in picking up how a healthy and normal person can feel depressed and alien when on holiday alone among crowds. The unambitious and aimless film in its simple pronouncements and honest storytelling keeps things in perspective without trying to do too much, which serves it well.

On Delphine's first vacation try she treks to Cherbourg at the invitation of a friend who says she can have fun even if she's the only guest alone at a country house filled with other couples. She befriends the children, takes long walks alone, and in one rough incident is made to feel strange at dinner when she turns down pork chops and goes into a long rambling defense of why she's a vegan. She bolts when this vacation only reinforces her loneliness. She next takes up her ex-boyfriend's offer of the use of his vacant apartment in a ski mountain resort in the Alps, only to leave the same afternoon she arrived because she feels uncomfortable being there all alone. Back in Paris, in August, where she dreads to be, a woman friend Delphine hasn't seen for ages gives her the use of her vacant flat in Biarritz. On North Beach the withdrawn willowy Delphine is befriended by the fun loving, multi-language speaking and topless Lena (Carita), an adventurous Swede vacationing alone in Europe and loving every minute of it. When two guys pick them up at a cafe, Delphine gets turned off by the light banter and how Lena is playing mind games with the boys and bolts. Planning to return to Paris, she's at the Biarritz station reading Dostoevsky's The Idiot when a young, handsome and sincere carpenter (Vincent Gauthier) from the area converses with her that he also read that book and she lets her guard down and spends a day together with him at a nearby fishing town. The fairy tale moment comes when they watch the sun set and the last ray of the sun is a green flash that affirms what Jules Verne said in his novel The Green Ray. Verne said at the moment one sees that rare meteorological phenomenon, a burst of green light just as the sun sinks below the horizon into the sea -one gains an insight into their true self. This brings a new joy for her, as she finds renewed hope in living by not playing the conventional games and seems happy for the first time in the story. Though we might find her a bit petulant and odd, she's still charming and worth caring about; and so when she finds her own balance in the world and possible Mr. Right, we do care. Not an earth-shattering resolution, but a good cinema one for the perfect heroine for an intelligent Rohmer comedy.

REVIEWED ON 5/3/2007        GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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