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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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Top Customer Reviews
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...
Like all Eric Rohmer's movies, CLAIRE'S KNEE is in a certain way hypnotic, in the medical sense of the word. Because you will pass 100 minutes to listen to actors who are saying the most deep philosophical truths while playing tennis, eating or climbing mountains. Most of the actors are non professional but it doesn't matter ; you will be so interested in the dialogs and in each gesture of the characters that you won't have the time to remark that Robert De Niro is not on the screen.
The place : the Lake of Annecy's surroundings, near Geneva, Switzerland. The argument : a diplomat on holidays, on the verge of getting married, encounters two young girls, 16 and 18 years old. During three weeks, he will try to seduce them in order to prove to himself that he is ready for marriage and cannot fall in love with another woman. It's very difficult to summarize a screenplay which gives such importance to the silences of the characters. So, be curious !
Nothing to be mad about the extra-features and the audio and video transfers.
A DVD for the fetishists ones.
Most recent customer reviews
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. Read morePublished on Feb. 26 2004
As a film, "Claire's Knee" retains its charm and is a pleasure to see every couple of years. Read morePublished on Sept. 19 2003
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. Read more
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... Read morePublished on Jan. 26 2002 by Tom Munro
I really enjoy the bemused exchanges of the adults trying to make sense out of (and foolishly participate in) the world of youthful love. Read morePublished on Sept. 14 1999
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