Pauline at the Beach Screen 5 articles

Pauline at the Beach

1983

Pauline at the Beach Poster
  • This is arguably Rohmer’s most broadly entertaining film, presenting his typically inquisitive human comedy in the general shape of a bedroom farce, replete with misunderstandings and chance encounters. It’s also perhaps his most casually profound.

  • Despite its ostensible breeziness, and a Gallic nod to the virtue of denial, this seductively smart film holds hard, sardonic truths about matters of the heart. “You think I am Machiavellian,” Henri says to Pierre (Pascal Greggory), who pines for Marion and has caught Henri cheating on her and conjuring a coldhearted alibi. “Not at all. I did it without thinking.” C’est la guerre.

  • Despite the way that the film foregrounds the incongruities in a character’s spoken philosophies vs. their actions, Rohmer isn’t so much interested in parading their naïveté as he is in finding the small tragedies and ironies that occur in their various romantic involvements. A comedy that plays like particularly tantalizing gossip, PAULINE AT THE BEACH exhibits Rohmer at his most amusing.

  • Pauline at the Beach recalls the unobtrusive formalism of Rohmer's early work. Cinematographer Néstor Almendros captures the pale sunlight of the Brittany coast, using its harsh glints to match Pauline's penetrating study of her peers, while the mostly static camera speaks to her grounded feelings.

  • The film was a still a financial success at home and abroad, and stands as one of Rohmer’s purely pleasurable works, from the location to the outfits (I don’t have the language for fashion, but my wife exclaimed any time Arielle Dombasle appeared in a new ensemble), to the romantic nettle woven by their pretty words. Marion, Henri, and Pierre cannot live up to those words, but Pauline, with her reflective, penetrating stare, offers the possibility of authenticity, and an enduring love.