Eric Rohmer, the intelligent, contemplative, French filmmaker, passed away in January in 2010 at the age of 89. Renowned for works like 1969’s “My Night at Maud’s”, 1970’s “Claire’s Knee” and 1983’s “Pauline at the Beach”, among many others, made Rohmer a staple of the late 20th century’s art film scene. An elegant director with nary a dash of flamboyance, his films were also once infamously described(by Gene Hackman’s character in 1975’s “Night Moves”)as “like watching paint dry”. But others found Rohmer’s work to be an inspiration and a revelation. He has a legion of admirers, and the start of summer 2014 is bringing the American ones some very good news.
Eric Rohmer crafted a quartet of motion pictures in the 1990’s that he called his “Tales of the Four Seasons”. 1990 saw the premiere of “A Tale of Springtime”, in 1992 it was “A Tale of Winter”, and “A Tale of Autumn” appeared in 1998 two years after “A Tale of Summer” rose in most countries in 1996. But “A Tale of Summer” never arrived in U.S. theaters, and it’s left Rohmer devotees confounded. While all three of the previous entries appeared in, at least, limited runs in the big cities, fans of the director never even had “A Tale of Summer” appear in N.Y. or L.A. Well, finally their time has arrived. “A Tale of Summer” gets its first official North American opening today…18 years after its European roll out. And I cherish that news.
Hey, Eric Rohmer is an acquired taste. If you are unfamiliar with his work, you may very well find yourself agreeing with the observation of the Hackman character from 1975. Rohmer was an intellectual that also worked as a critic, a novelist and a teacher. Are you bored by movies that simply show people talking? Well, add English subtitles, that’s what some would claim you are getting from Eric Rohmer. But be happy about that. In a time when movies are getting increasingly kinetic, and with the fourth Michael Bay “Transformers” blockbuster arriving in less than a week, “A Summer’s Tale” should prove to be a tonic for smart, adult-minded moviegoers. If only there were more like it. Welcome ashore, “A Summer’s Tale”! Better late than never.