Monday, August 16, 2010

PAULINE AT THE BEACH (Eric Rohmer, 1983, France)

Pauline is caught in the riptide of adolescence and keeps her tongue firmly in her own mouth. Director Eric Rohmer’s third film in his Comedies and Proverbs hexalogy asserts; “A wagging tongue bites itself”, and all of the adult characters are trapped in a spiteful game of verbal sparring, where love asymptomatically becomes denial.

Pauline is blossoming into womanhood, and a week at the beach with her beautiful aunt Marion becomes an emotional Normandy invasion. Marion has separated from her husband and is seeking that “burning passion”, confusing the superficial for profound. She acknowledges her old flame Pierre but renounces his possessive desire for a new romantic lead in Henri, who speaks out of both sides of his mouth with a genial kiss. This ménage a trio of turmoil becomes a soporific for Pauline, the child who sees as a child, her innocent gaze like an x-ray, peering beneath the hardened skin, this amorous armor and into the egocentric chambers of the heart. Amid this adult frenzy of lovelorn capitulation, she forms an interest in Sylvain, a boy her own age. Rohmer contrasts the Henri/Marion relationship with much younger Pauline/Sylvain, both destroyed by deceit and disguised by doublespeak, and Pauline takes her first independent steps into adulthood…while Marion seems forever lost in the abyss of adolescence.

Final Grade: (B)

3 comments:

Juan Ramos said...

I love Rohmer's films and Pauline at the Beach is one of my favourites. The French-American Arielle Dombasle also features in another film by Rohmer, the comedy The Good Marriage which, if you haven't seen, I'd like to recommend to you.

Juan Ramos said...

Oops, I've just realised that you already have reviewed The (or A) Good Marriage. Never mind!

Alex DeLarge said...

Thanks Juan! I order Rohmer's SIX MORAL TALES Crtierion set through the Barnes & Noble %50 off sale last month. I'm working my way through those films too!