Wednesday, September 15, 2010

next in netflix queue:

La Collectionneuse

This film is best viewed as a transitional work, and Rohmer’s first attempt at adapting his patented talky romance format to feature length. The two previous entries in the Moral Tales series, “La Boulangère de Monceau” and “Suzanne’s Career”, both produced in 1963, were B/W shorts, shot in Paris in a gritty, documentary style. “La Collectionneuse” was filmed in color by the great Nestor Almendros (who would go on to win an Oscar for Days of Heaven) and takes place in the rural south of France, in one of those stone farmhouses that make American tourists swoon. A Parisian named Adrian (Patrick Bauchau), who has taken navel-gazing to an art form, has come to the villa for one of those interminable French holidays. He shares the house with his friend Daniel (Daniel Pommereulle) and a free-sprited – to put it mildy - young woman named Haydee (Haydee Politoff). Haydee’s vacation plans consist almost entirely of having sex with, well, everyone. Everyone except Adrian, that is. In an interesting reversal of the usual sexual politics, it is Haydee who views sex as a series of one night conquests, and she ‘collects’ trysts with men the way others collect stamps. This throws the handsome Adrian into a blasé sort of tizzy, as he finds himself unable to seduce the unselective Haydee, and his self esteem, which is basically his entire raison d’être , is mortally threatened.. This film is far from Rohmer ‘s best. There are issues with the casting – usually Rohmer’s strong suit –that prevent the film from fully capitalizing on its intriguing premise. Patrick Bachau seems much too ambivalent considering he's supposedly The Worlds Most Self Absorbed Man, and Haydee Politoff simply isn't interesting. The slightly tomboy-ish ingénue is a Rohmer archetype, serving as the narrative lynchpin in much of his future work. But here, through Politoff’s shortcomings, we gain a deeper appreciation of the many times the director got this character exactly right.

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