A Summer's Tale (1996)
May 8, 2023 11:01 AM - Subscribe

A shy maths graduate takes a holiday in Dinard before starting his first job. He hopes his sort-of girlfriend will join him, but soon strikes up a friendship with another girl working in town. She in turn introduces him to a furth...

Before beginning a new job, Gaspard (Melvil Poupaud) goes to a beach town to relax for a few weeks. He waits for Lena (Aurelia Nolin), a girl he has been casually dating for some time. When she does not arrive, he strikes up a friendship with waitress Margot (Amanda Langlet). Through her, Gaspard also meets Solene (Gwenaëlle Simon), a free spirit open to a physical relationship if he agrees to be faithful. As Gaspard spends time with each, he finds his feelings even further conflicted.

Ben Sachs
: Few directors could say as much with as little as Eric Rohmer. Consider the first emotional climax of A Summer’s Tale (1996): with just two actors, a crew of six, and a hillside trail overlooking a beach, Rohmer creates a sequence of sly humor, slow-burning eroticism, and timeless behavioral insight. Gaspard (Melvil Poupard), a postgraduate student on vacation, has spent about a week in the resort town of Dinard, waiting to be joined by the woman he’s been casually dating. He’s unsure whether to take the relationship further and wants to see her again before making a decision; unfortunately she keeps delaying her arrival. To pass the time, Gaspard takes a series of strolls with Margot (Amanda Langlet), another student, who’s working at her aunt’s restaurant while her boyfriend studies halfway around the world. Their conversations begin innocently but become more intimate each day; Rohmer presents their walks one after another, charting their relationship as one long crescendo of mutual fascination.

Barbara VanDenburgh: There's a purity to the experience of watching a film so naturalistic, like living in someone else's life for two hours. And all the while the film builds to a dramatic crescendo without you realizing it; Gaspard has so gradually dug himself into a hole, he's as unaware as a frog being boiled alive in a pot.

Gemma Files: A Summer's Tale, the latest from snooze-meister Eric Rohmer, is a light, frothy film set on the beaches of Brittany -- jam-packed with local color, tight-stomached bikini-clad girls and angst-ridden Gallic conversation. It's the kind of vaguely philosophical travelogue/not-exactly-love story audiences are virtually guaranteed to find either exotically fascinating or utterly interminable (you can probably guess which of these two camps I fall into).

posted by Carillon (1 comment total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Gaspard is such a shit here, but in ways that are really recognizable to me from young men I knew when I was his age. Lena isn't better mind you, but Solene and Margot really deserve better. Rohmer does a great job putting you into Gaspard's life, you really do feel like you're living in his shoes for the film. Quite a good watch, and apparently the one Rohmer felt was the most autobiographical for him, which explains why the movie finds the protagonist endearing.
posted by Carillon at 11:04 AM on May 8, 2023

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