Love in the Afternoon – dir.Eric Rohmer, 1972

Fredric (Bernard Verley) has a nice house and a charming and clever wife, with whom he has a cherubic child, with another on the way. Frederic is unable at present to objectively appreciate his domestic situation as he is faltering in the midst of a somewhat premature seven-year itch.  When he takes the morning train his intense gaze at a young woman, sitting ripe and deliciously mysterious in the morning sun, could smoulder the meanest of young hearts. Fredric, whilst sitting in a café on a bustling Parisian street, reveries of controlling the crowds of woman, that pour out from nowhere, to be gone in an instant, never to be known by him. As the last of Rohmer’s ‘six moral tales’ this film has a narrative clout to it that engages with the protagonists own moral quandary, on reacquainting himself with the enigmatic Chloe (Zouzou).  Chloe is the anathema to Frederic’s marriage.  Chloe is loose, free and cool, she flits from job to job, and man-to-man, a totemic temptress, offering Fredric an opportunity to take action and nullify his otherwise meandering passive café-sitting placidity.  She is an alluring thing that Fredric finds a place for in the afternoons.  Chloe’s character is oppositional to Frederic, who is comforted by domestic security.  Chloe is spontaneous and unreliable, which offers excitement yet she never displays any notion of needing anyone, what she offers Frederic fits perfectly for his marriage.  Chloe’s face and body is utilised by Rohmer to bestow a sense of her fragility.  Waiflike and girlish, topped off with high cheek bones and sad eyes, Zouzou’s own mischievousness is an undeniable factor in much of Chloe’s allure. The film is an exploration of the male gaze, the power it has over woman in its objectification, yet there is a warm heart to the story.  Frederic epiphanies that he is in love with his wife, from his crisis has arisen the realisation that he loves her more than ever.  It is a tender seen when he tells her this, as though a light has come on from in the darkness, her reaction is to cry, can’t you see I’m laughing, she tells him.



One response to “Love in the Afternoon – dir.Eric Rohmer, 1972

  1. Interesting you see the sexual politics side of Fréderic’s relationship with Zouzou/Chloé, which I overlooked. I saw instead the pain of desire unconsummated. Both are undeniably there in the film, two sides to the coin of sexual attraction.

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