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Archive for August 28th, 2009

Neglected Gems: An Autumn Tale

An Autumn Tale (Conte d’automne) is a quiet and touching romantic drama directed by French great Eric Rohmer. It’s the last of his film cycle based on the seasons (the others are similarly named, and similarly loved). The plot focuses on Magali, a widowed woman in her mid-forties whose 2 best friends decide, independently, to set her up with a man. Sounds typical, and the usual confusions and embarrassments do come to pass, but the movie’s strength is the delicacy and honesty with which it portrays these moments.

Rohmer was 79 when he directed this film (from 1998), and it’s proof positive that the quality of one’s work need not suffer with age. The movie has an extremely slow pace, though this reveals itself as one of its best aspects — slowed down, the viewer has time to establish a true connection with the extremely believable characters. Autumn Tale has an incredible 97% at Rotten Tomatoes. Kenneth Turan says that “besides being one of his wisest and most enjoyable films, it also has the light-fingered vigor and panache more chronologically youthful directors are not always able to muster.”

Criticker users agree. Not an incredible number of people have seen Autumn Tale, but there are very few scores in its list which aren’t colored a dark green. So if you’re feeling shell-shocked from bombastic fare like G.I. Joe and Transformers, maybe you’d find this quiet romance set in the French countryside a welcome relief.