Autumn Tale

1998, Movie, PG, 112 mins

Review

AUTUMN TALE | CONTE D'AUTOMNE
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Like real life, only slower: Eric Rohmer's quiet, contemplative style of filmmaking has fans and plenty of detractors. Set on farms and little towns in the Rhone valley, the final installment in the 80-year-old Rohmer's "Tales of the Four Seasons" is a picturesque ensemble piece on the order of COOKIE'S FORTUNE, but there's nothing facile, precious or overacted about it. In his usual talky fashion, Rohmer subtly lays out a relationship between life-long friends Magali (Béatrice Romand) and Isabelle (Marie Rivière), both in their mid-forties. Happily married Isabelle, who's about to marry off her daughter Émilia (Aurelia Alcaïs), decides to find a suitable mate for vintner Magali, an eccentric widow who dedicated herself to perfecting her wine after her two children fled her household. Isabelle places a personal ad on Magali's behalf and undertakes to screen the suitors, quickly meeting up with eligible bachelor Gérald (Alain Libolt). He's rather piqued when Isabelle reveals, after several dates, that she's not Magali. But Gérald agrees to meet her at Emilia's wedding. Meanwhile Rosine (Alecia Portal), who's dating Magali's son Léo(Stéphane Darmon), drags her considerably older ex-boyfriend Étienne (Didier Sandre) to the ceremony, planning to introduce him to Magali. The performances by Rivière, Romand and Libolt are keen and astute: Romand in particular imbues the prickly Magali with a winning quality that makes her friends' rampant matchmaking plausible. Anyone looking for flashy filmmaking will be disappointed by Rohmer's uncomplicated visual style — all long takes and raw, unfiltered light. But his simple script and methods capture a sense of place and character that eludes far more conspicuously stylish directors. Seemingly artlessly, Rohmer shambles toward resolution, exploring the twisty complications of ordinary life in his sweet, modest way. leave a comment --Sandra Contreras

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