Eric Rohmer directed the last of his "Six Moral Tales" in 1972 with a simplicity that would put off viewers today. People expecting a swelling score, dramatic moments, flashy, tricky editing, glamorous stars, and a satisfying conclusion will probably be best to look elsewhere as this, the plainest (yet not without its subtexts) of his films, depicts a flirtation with the opposite sex in a Walter Mitty fashion at its beginning which out of the blue becomes real in the form of Chloe (Zouzou) as she pays a visit to Frederic (Bernard Verley) at his office one afternoon. Both reconnect in conversations, but while she seems slightly aggressive -- the ultimate fantasy of any male -- and worldly, he seems to dance tentatively around her, as if coming too close might not be a wise idea. Frederic's pregnant wife Helene (Francoise Verley) is kept aside in an apparent blissful ignorance that anything may be going on between he and Chloe even when they all converge one evening in a Macy's-like department store. It makes you wonder if Eric Rohmer is trying to tell you if he's giving the green light on this possibility, that Frederic will indeed, later on, give in to Chloe's aggressive, almost masculine advances. (An interesting contrast is presented with having Helene look frail, waif-ish, ultra-feminine, while Chloe is clearly the opposite: a little world-weary, tomboy-ish at times, plain yet intriguing, with an aura of the equivalent of today's Angelina Jolie within.) It is this flirting with what is clearly on the outside of his structured life the reason that makes Frederic accept her advances, and even feel slightly piqued when soon after taking a part-time job as a waitress in a restaurant she suddenly disappears for about two weeks without notice. When she does return, though, she seems determined to have Frederic's child -- at least, this is what she states, even though Helene has borne him two, one during the course of the story -- but of course, since she's an independent woman who can love from afar and not feel the constraints of marriage, she would never impose anything on Frederic. Is she real, or is she also dancing in her own oblique yet frank dance? One can never be too sure: she states not wanting any emotional attachments on one end yet clearly reacts to Frederic's repeated telling her he is married. And then there's the question in regards to Helene, whom we only see sparingly throughout the film: through Chloe's words, how much does she hide from Frederic? How well do we know even our closest ones? Might Helene also have someone, her own secrets? Chloe states she's recently seen her walking with a man on the streets of Paris, but since we never do, we can only speculate. Yet this becomes important only minutes later, as when Frederic, who is coming extremely close to making love to Chloe (who for the moment seems to have gotten her life in order as a shopgirl), decides to leave her naked on her bed after visiting her while she was showering and run back to his office and into the waiting Helene who needs to see him at once. Why, it is never explained. Rohmer decides to leave it open to discussion as the credits pop up, and apparently, a 'happy ending' has been reached through Helene's emotional outburst, and their embrace an decision to make love at the very end.
Chloe in the Afternoon
Chloe in the Afternoon
Though he has an adoring wife, a bourgeois man is still tempted to pursue other women.
May 28, 2020