Claire’s Knee (1970)

Last night I watched Claire’s Knee (1970), the fifth entry in Eric Rohmer’s series of “Six Moral Tales.” This one is built around Jerome, an unusually self-absorbed rake (even by Rohmer’s standards) who spends the weeks leading up to his marriage on holiday at Lake Annecy. While there he meets an old acquaintance, Aurora, an Italian writer in search of inspiration. Their reunion, as is often the case in Rohmer’s films, leads to long talks about love and life, some genuinely interesting, others much less so. Jerome tells Aurora that he has finally agreed to marry because, after six years with his fiancee, he is surprised to discover that he still finds her interesting. It’s difficult to imagine Jerome finding anyone interesting, though. At the end of the film, for instance, he is shocked to learn that Aurora is engaged. “You never asked,” she tells him.

Much of Claire’s Knee concerns Jerome’s flirtations with Laura and Claire, the two young daughters of his landlady. In typical Rohmer fashion, their courtship rituals are mostly verbal. His protagonists are keenly interested in love and in ideas of love. At times, I find these discussions endlessly fascinating — the late night talk between Jean-Louis and Maud being the best example — but after seeing more than ten of Rohmer’s films, the novelty of his style has begun to wear on me. I’m fascinated by the pacing of his films and by his need to show those parts of life that are so seldom put on film (the boring parts, some would say), but their lasting affect has been lessened by repetition. For more info about Rohmer, check out my friend Gary’s site.