Full Moon in Paris (Eric Rohmer / France, 1984):
(Les Nuits de la Pleine Lune)

Like Jean-Pierre Melville, Eric Rohmer so thoroughly constructs his own worlds that he can also forge proverbs to go with them: "He who has two women loses his soul, he who has two houses loses his mind." The heroine (Pascale Ogier) wants two houses, a pied-à-terre away from the Parisian apartment she shares with her beau (Tchéky Karyo) so she can experience the full effect of her independence (she looks forward to "loneliness and the pain it causes"). Her friend (Fabrice Luchini) is a pale aesthete who envisions himself as an undying seducer; he ponders Ogier’s petite, Elaine Benis-ish frame and commends her "fierce amazon look." In her freshly redecorated room, she calls up four fellas, one after another with no luck, then settles for a couple of books from the shelf, the screen fades out on the vacant bed (two unbroken takes). The plot thickens: Ogier becomes interested in having a fling as long as it’s "purely physical," then gets suspicious that Karyo is himself seeing someone. Luchini, who may have witnessed the liaison, is no help ("One doesn’t see a woman, one sees... ‘Woman’"). Out of this Lubitschian tangle Rohmer finds Le Beau Mariage in reverse, and couches it in terms of pure rhythm still unappreciated by bookish critics. The wordless sequence with Ogier testing her freedom by alternately chasing and being chased by a cutie (Christian Vadim) on the dance floor is a lambent stretto; the heroine completely stripped in the bedroom is a sobering bit of repose, like a Roderic O'Conor nude; the placidness of the café, with the philosophical owl (László Szabó) and his moonstruck drawings, reminds her of order, Nature, contradictory grace. "When I’m in one, I want to be in the other." At the close she steps out into the morning light, wounded but with mind and soul regained. With Virginie Thévenet

--- Fernando F. Croce

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