Melvil Poupaud

A Summers Tale

The art and seductive power of conversation lies at the heart of the work of Éric Rohmer, the French New Wave filmmaker who passed away in 2010. Best known for his “Six Moral Tales” series, which included modern investigations of fidelity and ethics in titles like My Night at Maud’s and Love in the Afternoon, Rohmer’s work uses conversation as a platform from which to explore the elasticity of human personality, morality, and rational decision-making. These are not merely films that have a great deal of dialogue – rather, Rohmer crafted interactions between characters that gradually and shrewdly peel away toward the core (or shape-shifting goo) of their identity. The same can be said for A Summer’s Tale, Rohmer’s 1996 film that is only now seeing an official US theatrical release. The third entry in Rohmer’s season-themed late-career series of films (which also includes A Tale of Springtime (1990), A Winter’s Tale (1992) and A Tale of Autumn (1996)), A Summer’s Tale is a masterclass in Rohmer’s one-of-a-kind approach to the spoken word onscreen. The film at first seems like an innocuous series of introspective conversations between attractive people, but eventually unravels into a more complex portrait about the different kinds of people we pretend to be depending upon the immediate audience at hand.

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Laurence1

Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy decides he wants to be a girl, and girl struggles with whether or not she can still love boy-turned-girl. This seems like such an obviously compelling storytelling scenario, a queer twist on an otherwise conventional love story, which makes it striking that a film like Xavier Dolan’s Laurence Anyways hasn’t already been made before (at least, not to my knowledge). Montreal, 1989. Laurence Alia (Melvil Poupaud of Arnaud Desplechin’s A Christmas Tale) is a novelist and literature teacher well into a passionate years-long relationship with Fred Belair (Suzanne Clément), an AD in the Quebec film industry. The couple plans a vacation, Laurence prepares his first novel, but something is amiss; something is tearing Laurence apart. While in the middle of a drug-addled, fiery exchange in a car wash, Laurence breaks down and reveals to Fred that he was never meant to be a man, that he despises the body he was given and longs to realize his true self as a woman.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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