The last time I watched a film by Éric Rohmer it was My Night At Maud’s and my wrist was busted. Four years later and I am finally watching another film of his and have found one I really liked. I quite liked the previous film, especially for French New Wave, but this one hit me in the feels.
A Tale of Winter is the second of four films that Rohmer made in this period around the seasons. It is also an excuse for him to include an excerpt of Shakespeare’s play A Winter’s Tale as part of the narrative, which made for a really interesting scene. The film takes place over a few weeks in December where Félicie has still not gotten over the man she fell for five years earlier. She accidentally gave him the wrong address and now seems to exist in a sort of limbo waiting for him to return – whilst having two beaus because this is France.
Like with the other film of Rohmer’s that I saw, any sort of sensuality is dealt with through words and conversation. In another film, the conversations about Shakespeare and reincarnation would have been foreplay, but Félicie exists outside of this world somewhat. So whilst she can engage in these conversations, they don’t actually help her get to the same place of intimacy as you would see in films from the heyday of New Wave.
Still though, there is a lot of talking being done here and a lot of it is around Félicie’s confusion with her direction and her taking the step to not settle for men she isn’t head over heels with. Mainly because she is still hung up on her old flame but also because why should she settle.
Rohmer does a great job in Conte d’hiver in bringing rationality into irrational life decisions and in drawing excellent performances from lesser known actors. It would appear that, at least compared to My Night At Maud’s, he became a bit more romantic with age – based on their respective endings anyway. This is one of the better films I have seen as part of my weird coronavirus time off – only to be beaten by the film I saw next…