Friday, July 21, 2006

Erik Rohmer

Eric Rohmer's "Autumn Tale," is a glowing film. For now let's set aside the details of the film, and look at how Rohmer works. His plot [a woman's best friend places a personal ad for her, and secretly arranges for her to meet a likely candidate for marriage] could be the stuff of soap opera, sitcom, or paperback romance. But not the way Rohmer approaches it.

A director who is still inventive and curious at 78, he has two valuable qualities: Patience and attention. He allows us to meet the characters. To hear them talking, to see them living. They explain themselves. They discuss their lives. He's in no hurry to get to the payoff [and indeed the film has no love scene]. He involves us in the lives of these people, and in what Bergman means by their faces. We grow to know them and care for them.

The challenge for the actors [especially Marie Riviere, as the widow] is enormous. The camera is not interested in their "acting" so much as in their essence, and as Rohmer attentively regards these people, we find ourselves in synch with their breathing and their inner natures. It's scary, almost, the way the movie cuts free of conventional pacing and allows us into the character's real time.

The film was introduced by its producer, the director Barbet Schroeder, who said Rohmer has his ideas long in advance of filming, but doesn't write a word of the script until he has spent weeks talking with the actors, "so that they will never have to say anything they wouldn't really say."

Schroeder told a story about one of Rohmer's earlier films, "Claire's Knee" [1971]. "There is a scene in that movie where they pick a rose," he said. "Rohmer knew where the scene would be shot, and there he planted that rose, one year earlier, so that it would bloom just on time."

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home