Claire’s Knee Screen 8 articles

Claire’s Knee


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  • The first indisputably great film of 1971, and, as such, deserves the attention of every serious student of film... Rohmer has rejuvenated the movie narrative at a time when too many prestigious directors—Godard, Bergman, Antonioni, Fellini et al.—have renounced it.

  • The penultimate entry (1970, 106 min.) in Eric Rohmer's series of “Six Moral Tales,” and the loveliest, most crystalline of the lot. With his serenely precise plot structures and camera placements, Rohmer is the greatest logician of the movies; he treats the mysteries of love as if they were math problems, but with such generous concern that he never betrays the humanity of his characters.

  • No amount of plot description can convey the experience of Rohmer's films, which explore the nexus between thought and emotion more directly than the medium has ever done before. As always. Rohmer uses long passages of dialogue as raw material for the character studies, but, far from being an interior drama, Claire's Knee thrives on Rohmer's genius for capturing the mood of a location, the immediacy of the moment, and the implacable passage of time. In short, the film is about everything.

  • A significant step forward for Rohmer. In it we can see the visual discipline so prevalent in The Marquise of O… (1976) and Perceval le Gallois (1978), the self-referential aspects of the Comedies and Proverbs, and of course the impressionistic style of the Tales of the Four Seasons. But few of his films compel the viewer into such an active role.

  • Of the six tales, none seems more indigenous to cinema than Claire’s Knee (1970), the joint in question, that of a pretty blonde teenager on a ladder, becoming the fulcrum of an exquisite dissertation on the perversity of desire. The idea and the image are one, forever circling and intertwined in these exquisite meditations on the anomalies of attraction, which seem to be all about the female of the species, even when the central figure, the desiring and rationalizing protagonist, is male

  • The goatish gaze, the author’s theorem: "To be written, it must happen." The shapely structure is a transposition of Laclos with Nabokov echoes filtering through, Eric Rohmer sculpts it most sagaciously against the luscious greens and blues of Annecy in the summertime.

  • The most striking performances in the film come from the youngsters, especially Beatrice Romand as Laura and Fabrice Luchini as her motormouthed friend Vincent. Romand looks like a sly sylph under a mop of curls, and is one of those rare actors who can convey the act of thinking without saying a word. Her face is a seismograph of reactions to Jérôme’s flirtations, at once ecstatic, disbelieving, and suspicious.

  • Even if Rohmer’s characters hew primarily to the middle class, the filmmaker’s gaze (complemented, in many of these works, by cinematographer extraordinaire Néstor Almendros) is all-inclusive. Witness Claire’s Knee, in which Rohmer relates a battle of generational wits with a complexity akin to Marcel Proust.

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