Rohmer Puts New Spins on Old Agonies in Relationships

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Rohmer Puts New Spins on Old Agonies in Relationships

Here's a typical Eric Rohmer movie: Man meets woman, but gets nowhere with her. Man then sees another woman, much younger. Man flirts. Then man gets conscience-stricken. Then man goes back to first woman and finds peace of mind.

This may sound like a banal love story, yet when the scene is captured by Mr. Rohmer, a prolific French filmmaker now in his early eighties, it becomes an art movie.

The Film Institute of Seoul is presenting a retrospective of Rohmer's works titled "The Moralist Indulged in Love," until Sunday. Rohmer's camera explores psychological portraits of different types of agony: the agonies of choosing, jealousy, temptation and morality. These investigations take place in the daily situations of ordinary people, usually a timid or vulgar male narrator who gets torn between two women or flustered from an inhibited relationship. There are no outrageous visuals or catchy dialogue. The camera simply witnesses the rhythms of life, usually played out in a radiant French landscape.

Mr. Rohmer started his film career in the 1950s when he joined Cahier du Cinema, a magazine of film criticism. Later he helped establish the New Wave of French cinema. Along with Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard and Jacques Rivette, the French New Wave prompted a film renaissance in the 1960s. The group revolted against commercial films, and aspired to be true "auteurs," directors who create and control the entire process of filmmaking, from screenwriting to final editing.

Although there are numerous film festivals these days, there is something special about devoting one to Mr. Rohmer. Because Mr. Rohmer prefers his films to be shown on the big screen, they are hard to find in video shops.

Several of the films at this retrospective will be shown with English subtitles: on Thursday, "Chloe in the Afternoon" (12:00), "The Girl at the Monceau Bakery/ Suzanne's Career" (5:00), and "The Marquise of O" (7:40); Friday, "Perceval le Gallois" (5:00); Saturday, "My Night at Maud's" (5:00); and Sunday, "Pauline at the Beach" (2: 40).

The retrospective moves to Pusan, where it runs Aug. 10 until Aug. 17. For more information, call 02-595-6002 for the show in Seoul, or 051-742-5377 for Cinematheque Pusan.

by Chun Bo-hyun

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