Perhaps no one expects much of summer at the end of August. Public pools close with the first day of school. Parisians return to Paris. Each day is shorter than the day before, and spring is in the past more than the future. But summer is Eric Rohmer’s season, and The Romance of Astrée and Céladon is too late, for the director and for us.
It should be said that I have no patience for the Moral Tales and their male protagonists—for virtue as the trump card that self-righteous men play to win their peace of mind. Egotism rewarded for its cold devotion to a spiritual plane is not holy to me, regardless of the theology behind it. Holy is each mistreated bon vivant, from Maud (Françoise Fabian) to Claire (Laurence de Monaghan), subversive at the patriarchy’s fringe. But so long as they remained the objects of protagonists’ desires, the women could not be protagonists themselves, and Rohmer was more head than heart.
A Good Marriage (1982) was the turning point. For the first time, a woman was the hero, really the hero, and it began the longest winning streak in movies. The Romance of Astrée and Céladon begins with a dedication to Pierre Zucca, a still photographer on the sets of films directed by Jacques Rivette and François Truffaut. Click here to read the rest of Nathan Kosub’s review of Rohmer’s The Romance of Astrée and Céladon.