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Claire's Knee

Jean-Claude Brialy , Aurora Cornu , Eric Rohmer    PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)   DVD
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Abrasive, self-deluded humor tinges the prickly exploration of sexual politics in French director Eric Rohmer's world and it often makes for less-than-comfortable viewing. Though Rohmer has made movies for several decades, his best-known films comprise a cycle loosely dubbed "The Six Moral Tales" (one short, one featurette, and four features), which also includes La Collectionneuse, My Night at Maud's, and Chloe in the Afternoon. Rohmer's comedies are full of the disillusion and jaded settling that come with age and adulthood, and he sharply contrasts cynicism against the naiveté and easy, innocent wisdom of youth. In Claire's Knee, Jean-Claude Brialy plays a diplomat named Jerome Montcharvin, who agrees to housesit a friend's rural but lavish country estate for a month. Jerome appears contented with life as he's recently become engaged to Lucinde, a woman he's known for six years. He takes refuge in the fact that she is his opposite, and placates his doubts by reminding himself that "a woman made for me would bore me." Into this summer idyll and Jerome's predictable, ordered life come two teenage girls who threaten his faithful but passionless ardor for his fiancée. To temper his awakening libido, Jerome pretends to "experiment" with the young women's affections and, in doing so, exposes himself as a cruel, callous man who is clueless as to his true nature. Though a close woman friend cautions him that "in love, there is will," he dismisses the possibility yet in the end performs an act of "pure will" with one of the teens, the lovely Claire, and brashly hurts that which he most desires. Claire's Knee was shot by the brilliant cinematographer, the late Nestor Almendros, and the color palette in the film is a masterpiece of style and scheme. It's a Monet on celluloid, and its visual prowess, combined with the provocative, unsettling theme, earned the National Society of Film Critics' Best Film prize in 1971. (Unfortunately, the first "reel" of the DVD transfer contains several noticeable scratches and the color is also faded and purple.) --Paula Nechak

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
By M. B. Alcat TOP 1000 REVIEWER
The story told in "Claire's knee" is pretty strange, and certainly not the kind of plot I generally think is likely to turn into a good movie. In a nutshell, a man in his late thirties (Jean-Claude Brialy) develops an obsession for a beautiful teenager, Claire (Laurence de Monaghan). To be more precise, he is obsessed with Claire's knee, and needs to touch it, exactly as her boyfriend does.

That sounds boring, doesn't it? However, it isn't. This movie isn't about Jerome, the mature bachelor who begins to believe that Claire's knee is everything he wants, or about his friend Aurora (Aurora Cornu), that spurs him to flirt with young girls so she can have inspiration for her writing. It isn't about Laura (Béatrice Romand), Claire's sister, eager to flirt with Jerome, and it is certainly not about Claire, that doesn't pay Jerome too much attention. It is a film about wanting what you can't have, and forgetting about it as soon as you get your hands on it. Moreover, it is also story about love and infatuation, and the difference between them.

Will you like this film? I think so, because even though "Claire's knee" is not one of Rohmer's best films, it is a movie that you will enjoy watching, not for the story, but rather for the conversations between the characters. This film doesn't have any answers, but it allows you to ask yourself some very interesting questions, and that is the reason why I give it 3.5 stars...

Belen Alcat
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2.0 out of 5 stars Avoid this DVD Feb. 27 2004
Great film, but terrible transfer. If you watch this film for the first time on this DVD, you will get a very bad impression of this great film. So avoid it. But anyway there is never to expect much quality from FLA.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A poor transfer of a delightful film Sept. 19 2003
By A Customer
As a film, "Claire's Knee" retains its charm and is a pleasure to see every couple of years. I had bought the DVD assuming the image and sound would be superior to the VHS version but was disappointed by the poor quality of the transfer. The image is not sharp and the color, which should be vibrant, is washed out and poorly balanced. Moreover, I was anticipating the film would be presented in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio, but it is full-frame instead. The image looks so flat and lacking in resolution that one could almost suspect that the DVD had been made from a VHS copy. Whatever the source for the transfer was, it's truly a pity Fox Lorber should be satisfied to sell such a mediocre product.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Get Over It! March 12 2003
This is my favorite film by one of the greatest (and subtlest) writer/directors in world cinema, and its distressingly mediocre rating from so many reviewers here seems solely due to the American cultural hangup with an older man flirting with younger girls. But the absurdity of such attractions is exactly what this movie is about! The character of Jerome spends the entire film articulately rationalizing away his very real desire for a young girl who disdains him--finally fixating upon a single touch of her knee as a way to expiate any power she seems to hold over him. This film is about a man struggling with his own weakness and his own denial. There is absolutely nothing unseemly in any of Eric Rohmer's handling of this subject, and, indeed, the character of 15-year-old Laura, the girl who is kissed and embraced by the older Jerome, is one of the most knowing and self-possessed characters in the film. Her ultimate snub of Jerome when, too-little-too-late, he comes to appreciate her, is a key to the subtle humiliation to which Rohmer subjects Jerome. This film is a masterful examination of how people can speak one way and *act* another because of the power of their desires, and anyone who finds it offensive in some way should just get over it! Take your cultural baggage somewhere else.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Bite my Angst! July 8 2002
An affair almost happens. The French are fond of making films in which stuff almost happens, but doesn't.
And it doesn't get better than Eric Rohmer not doing it.
About as profound as 'American Beauty.' Maybe they'll play on a double bill someday.
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