Eric Rohmer’s “A Summer’s Tale” was made in 1996, 18 years ago, and is being re-released by Landmark Theatres in San Francisco on Aug 29. In 2005 the film was also re-released attesting to the longevity of this endearing film by the late French auteur who lived to be 89.
Rohmer made his mark as one of the young filmmakers of the French New Wave who turned the tide of conventional French films towards new directions in filmmaking with hand held cameras, shooting on location, use of natural sound, elliptical editing and new storytelling .
“A Summer’s Tale” was part of the filmmaker’s tableaux of four films on seasons. It was Rohmer’s intent to capture the preoccupations of youth in his summer story. There is no background music and there is close attention paid to a tightly knit story about the confusion of a young man that winds up being involved in multiple relationships..
Gaspal, played by Melville Poupaud, is a young man on vacation in Bréton waiting for an eight track for his musical equipment. During this vacation, by chance, he spends his time sharing three women. Margot is a café waitress he meets, a student with a boyfriend away on a trip,played by Amanda Langlet. The amorous Soléne (Gwenaëlle Simon) is Margot’s girlfriend, out for a lark and then there is Gaspal’s real girlfriend Léna (Aurelia Nolin).
Emotional navigation between these three women brings out Gaspal’s many sides. He fluctuates between being a lost soul that needs a mother, a stubborn lover who refuses to compromise or a smooth talker who tries to get what he wants. The film is made without the use of erotic scenes but convincingly captures the tension of attraction and the emotional pathos of young people in the midst of drama and passion. There are no cell phones to make connections, only a telephone where messages are left with callers, who actually call back.
Rohmer creates a compelling story that illustrates the reality of young love. Melville Poupaud, frequently cast in films by director François Ozon was recently in Xavier Dolan’s “Laurence Anyways” that won the Queer Palm award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012. The Jury President was Julie Gayet.