(Air Date: Week Of 08/28/96)
During their romantic interludes, the couples in the three stories making up Eric Rohmer's "Rendezvous in Paris" talk a lot about art -- we're in Europe, right? In the last story, called "Mother and Child," after a painting by Picasso, a painter describes the beauty of Paris, and he could be commenting on Rohmer's own aesthetic appeal. Paris is beautiful, he says, because it has no vivid colors -- the colors are neutral greys and beiges, with the changing light offering subtle modalities. That's like an Eric Rohmer film-- it owes its charm to a natural, understated style, and subject matter that rarely strays from day to day life -- make that moment to moment. If this, well, very personal quality is the cachet in many French films, Rohmer carries it to the nth.
He isn't to every one's taste, even among francophiles. The most rabid Frankie I ever knew would see anything French -- except life for Rohmer films. "Feather weight. Nothing there," he'd say. And he had a point. Take the Rohmer film "Summer," where a girl takes a mopey vacation, and nothing much happens. Then there's "Pauline at the Beach," where Pauline . . uh. . .goes to the beach!!
"Rendezvous in Paris" has an advantage over these films-- instead of getting one long but slight film, you get three short but slight films, and each fragile drama is enough to sustain the momentum during such a brief span. In the first story, "The Seven O'Clock Rendezvous," a girl has her wallet stolen, and discovers her boyfriend having a rendez-vous with another girl. In the second segment, "The Benches of Paris," an analytical married woman, and a lovesick academic, have romantic meetings all over Paris while she discusses the deterioration of her marriage, and he tries to seduce her, and it's all climaxed by -- nothing much, but that's O.K. In "Mother and Child," a painter is in the Picasso Museum with a beautiful interior decorator, but follows another girl out, she visits his studio to see his work, and they have a momentary flirtation. Very French. Sort of like watching a butterfly.
Paris is certainly one reason that "Rendezvous in Paris" draws you in. There are meltingly beautiful views of smaller Parisian scenes-- gardens, small statues, parks, and cafes in a variety of Parisian neighborhoods. Any one homesick for Paris will find this backdrop reason enough to see a film where lovers chastely rendezvous, talk, and part company, just trying out their romantic wings.
Copyright 1996 Mary Weems
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