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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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Product Description

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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
Format:DVD
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Get Over It! March 12 2003
Format:DVD
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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1.0 out of 5 stars Anthem of a Paedophile Jan. 26 2002
Format:DVD
In the 70's films such as this were the stable viewing fodder of the middle class intelligentsia. Searching for something which was not a Mills and Boon romance or an action adventure movie films such as there were seen as sensative and relevant.
In reality this film is not about much at all. An upper middle class male about to marry holidays with a friend. He meets two young women, one ugly (she is not but she has frizzy hair) and another beautiful. He desires to touch the knee of the attracitve one but she finds him rather repellent. He has a sort of teasing relationship with the other one and messes up her life. The end of the film allows our hero to manipulate the grief of Claire so that he can achieve his amibition of touching her knee.
It is hard know to realise the attraction of this film. The dialouge is long winded and tedious. The characters talk endlessly but never about anything.
The attraction of the film is more about the style of the film rather than the content or the form. The house in which the action takes place and the country side are beautifull. The characters have a sort of sophistication around their life, what they drink, what they eat which has been attractive to those outside France. The two female leads are gorgous and the film is well acted.
The only negative is that it is a boring talkative film which is about a self indulgent bore. One sees it and thinks a nuclear war destroying all these characters would not be the end of the world. Still some people probably like it.
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By A Customer
Format:DVD
First of all, I want to stress that the low rating for this DVD does not refer to the film itself, but to the lackluster transfer by Fox Lorber. I can second the comment of the reviewer below, that the film itself deserves five stars, whereas the video and audio quality of this DVD are no better than a VHS tape (in fact, this would be very low quality for a VHS for that matter). Moreover, as with their Godard and Truffaut issues, Fox Lorber has marked only 6 chapter headings on this DVD. Now how hard is it to bookmark a chapter? Of course, I suppose that would actually require taking some interest in the film itself, and perhaps even watching it a couple of times, so as to gadge the appropriate moments to bookmark. Thus, this DVD does not even have the advantage of convenient chapter options. It is a shame that a company who owns the rights to so many great films repeatedly releases such poorly engineered DVDs. There are, of course, exceptions (more recent titles, many of the Truffaut issues, or Godard's "Vivre Sa Vie," for example). Nonetheless, I have come to expect from Fox Lorber below average video and audio quality, along with few special features, if any (even the director and actor videographies are often incomplete). Even though I own many DVDs from Fox Lorber, inspite of their mediocre quality, this is one issue that I cannot recommend. I first rented this film on DVD, but elected to purchase it on VHS, instead. This is my second favorite Rohmer film, finishing a close second after "Chloe in the Afternoon," and I would recommend it to anyone interested in the French New Wave. However, do not waste your money on this DVD.
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