Reviewed by Tom Dawson
21 July 2005
Made nearly a decade ago when Rohmer was already in his mid-seventies, A Summer’s Tale is a beautiful and bittersweet romantic comedy from the evergreen French writer/director. Part of the filmmaker’s Tales Of The Four Seasons series, it unfolds over several weeks at the Brittany resort of Dinard, where the vacationing student Gaspard (Melvil Poupard) finds himself torn between three appealing young women: ethnologist Margot (Amanda Langlet), her forthright pal Solene (Gwenaelle Simon), and his supposed girlfriend Lena (Aurelia Nolin).
Time and time again in his distinguished career, in such films as Pauline At The Beach, The Green Ray and Claire’s Knee, Rohmer has explored the mysteries of the summer romance. Here his male protagonist is a good-natured if strangely indecisive figure, who proves amusingly unable to commit to any of the women to whom he feels attracted. (A running gag involves a sea-shanty that he composes, which he hurriedly amends for whichever female is in attendance.) Reluctant to take the initiative in romantic situations, Gaspard appears to lack the necessary faith in potential relationships.
“WINNINGLY NATURALISTIC PERFORMANCES”
In many ways the film represents vintage Rohmer. There’s the acute sense of time and place, the leisurely pacing, and the deceptively casual direction, which masks some artful plotting. And the physical movement of the characters, whether by boat or by car or on foot, conveys their inner restlessness, whilst their voluble interactions show how language can obscure our true feelings in matters of the heart. Rohmer never patronises his twentysomething creations and their emotional dilemmas, and the cast respond with winningly naturalistic performances.