The Green Ray Screen 19 articles

The Green Ray


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  • There's a whiff of fairytale to this particular slice of realism à la Rohmer, but what's perhaps most remarkable is that the film was almost completely improvised; though not so as you'd know it. It's as flawlessly constructed, shot and performed as ever, with France's greatest living director effortlessly evoking the morose moods of holidaying alone among crowds... Deceptively simple, the film oozes honesty and spontaneity; the word, quite bluntly, is masterpiece.

  • Yes, Summer is funny in a dark way: and you do want to reach up to the screen and shake some sense into the girl, But then, for me at least, comes a gleam of self-recognition, and Delphine magically becomes as irritatingly universal as Hamlet or Hedda Gabler. Summer is a singularly ennobling episode in the history of cinema. And in terms of the bloated budgets of the so-called motion picture industry, this beauty has simply walked out of the water and onto the beach like a Botticelli Venus.

  • Rohmer once wrote, in rebuttal to a criticism of the protagonists of his Moral Tales, “My characters’ discourse is not necessarily my film’s discourse,” but in the case of Le Rayon vert, whose heroine he awards approving benediction, it’s hard to ignore the filmmaker’s empathy for his subject. The degree to which one is moved by Delphine’s deliverance, therefore, will probably be limited by the degree to which one shares his affection.

  • Those who find Rohmer heroines difficult—that is, demanding because they are three-dimensional, non-formulaic creations with an intricate set of foibles and needs—might be won over by the depth and poignancy of Delphine, one of its maker's most generously etched characters, perhaps given its extra layer of vigor by Rivière's credit as a collaborator on the scenario.

  • Much [credit] is due to Sophie Maintigneux's expressive 16mm cinematography... and to Rivière's superb performance, which is specific in every gesture (her get-me-out-of-here glances during one extended dialogue are skin-crawlingly exact) without ever seeming contrived. But it's the by-the-ocean-at-sunset finale, arguably Rohmer's finest conclusion, that casts Delphine and this sublime work of cinema in a revelatory new light.

  • Among the director’s many holiday-set movies, Pauline at the Beach (1983) andA Summer’s Tale (1996) explore both the languid pleasures and the romantic anguish of time off during the hottest season. Rohmer’s 1986 masterpiece Le Rayon Vert centers on those themes, too, but delivers something much richer: an absorbing, empathic portrait of a complex woman caught between her own obstinacy and melancholy.

  • Rohmer relies on Rivière, who wrote most of her role herself, to ground his limpid study of a somewhat tiresome but radiant heroine waiting for salvation, and she manages to do that with a steady flurry of hopeful, slightly fumbling physical gestures with her hands and a persistent tic of looking up at the sky as if she’s playing the coquette for God.

  • Shooting on 16 mm, Rohmer catches partly improvised conversations, allowing overlapping dialogue and casual gestures (as when one of Delphine’s friends turns her attention to a magazine on a side table). Played by Marie Rivière, Delphine speaks in a fluttering self-revising rush, vacillating between assertion and confession; whenever she gives up and her tears flow, which happens more than once, it feels unexpected and real, a break in the etiquette of smooth surfaces.

  • The final scene is the suspense sequence of the decade, a miracle at sunset where, like Ingrid Bergman confronting the Stromboli volcano, Rohmer’s heroine gazes directly out at the world and within herself and receives the deliverance of self-recognition. Her tears are ours.

  • No other metropolitan auteur has shown more interest in the countryside's tourist economy of recreation and aleatory romance; in SUMMER the seasides stay in the background, as Delphine attempts to transcend the ennui of heteronormative superstition.

  • I believe Rohmer’s special genius as a writer/director was his uncanny ability to show, accurately and without condescension, the elaborate lengths to which human beings will go in order to deceive themselves. Marie Riviere is one of the best actresses Rohmer ever worked with, and she arguably nails this quality of self-deception better than anyone, including the brilliant Jean-Louis Trintignant in My Night at Maud’s.

  • One of the lightest Rohmer story structures (jilted girl embarks on Goldilocks-style quest to find the perfect vacation getaway) ends up creating one of his most affecting outcomes, which is of course saying a lot... Finally landing on something that pierces her tough outer shell, [Delphine] discovers that while real moments of connection are fleeting, the aura they leave behind can be powerful enough to turn tears of desperation into ones of joy.

  • It is hard to express in a compelling, unhysterical fashion why Eric Rohmer’s rhapsodic 1986 film, The Green Ray, stands among the headiest pinnacles of modern cinematic art. It’s not a revolutionary film in any traditional sense of the word, and it’s also a film whose modest concerns and production methods belie profound and intangible cosmic depths. Yet there are things about it which lend it a unique, quixotic quality which pushes it far above and beyond its contemporaries.

  • Eric Rohmer’s 1986 drama may be the finest example of his supple and prickly artistry. Working with a scant crew, he blends fiction and documentary with a graceful splendor of Impressionist inspiration... The film’s French title, “Le Rayon Vert” (“The Green Ray”), is that of a novel by Jules Verne, which intrudes surprisingly on the action, and which, like most of the movie’s striking coincidences, conveys a retrospective sense of destiny.

  • The payoff, at once simple and utterly miraculous, will send you out of the cinema floating, and a little puzzled about how Rohmer pulls off this modest but immensely potent emotional sleight of hand.

  • As strict as the structure may sound, what distinguishes The Green Ray is its seasonally appropriate looseness. Shot by a crew of just four on grainy 16mm, it’s a movie where characters and places are always coming and going, and scenes move in organic twirls of improvised dialogue. It feels like summer.

  • Rohmer finds the beauty in her intense ascetic solitude, and grants her an ending of offhand sublimity... Rohmer wanted the intimacy of a home movie, and got a tremblingly open-nerved performance from Rivière as a result.

  • Shot on super 16mm, the film looks as grainy as a beach picnic on a windy day. It has an unflinching naturalism and authenticity which makes this ambling, unfocused quest for an elusive good time into painfully compulsive viewing.

  • Despite its outdated emphasis on women finding a “mate” in order to feel whole, The Green Ray still speaks to a universal need to be understood... To truly connect with someone — romantically or platonically — is a rare occurrence. To not have had that emotional connection for so long is what led Delphine to despair, yet The Green Ray shows how even the most hopeless person can find optimism again in simple, everyday things.

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