Définitivement peut-être: A Summer tale

This year, french high schoolers who undertook the extra cinema course are very lucky. On the verge of summer, Conte d’Eté is the perfect film when you’re sixteen, about to eat the world, passer le bac  (national graduation at the end of high school), and hesitating upon many things in between.

When Oasis‘ first record was released in 1995, french press went bananas. The promo sheet on the wall of Gaspard‘s room in Conte d’Eté (A Summer tale) always made me wonder. Watching the film again for the sake of this article, I got it. “Definitely maybe” sums up the whole bloody affair. Or affairs?

Gaspard goes for a short summer trip to Bretagne, trying to write a sailor’s song. There, he meets three girls. Margot, working at a local crêperie, is lovely and caring. She goes right at him and they become friends. The other two, including is on & off fiancée Lena and Margot‘s friend Solène, are a total pain in the ass. Gaspard hesitates and ultimately flees.

In Conte d’Eté, doing it means talking about it. In other words, the talk is the action. Film scholar Carole Desbarats: “the sole issue of the choice is eroticized”. This comes from the long tradition of french marivaudage, where love plays hide and seek. Romance lingers on, and words are treacherous shields and spears.

On the surface, nothing extraordinary happens. Yet, we bear witness to the birth of a relationship whose beauty and credibility is nothing short of a small miracle. And as nature plays the role of a revelator to these young spirits, it all goes intertwined as in one of Rohmer‘s main cinema reference, Jean Renoir. In her essay about the film, Mrs Desbarats makes a parallel between Margot and Henriette‘s tears in Partie de campagne.

A light budget and a light crew go for a very enlightning film. Eric Rohmer was 74 when he wrote and directed Conte d’Eté. Its talky nature recalls a taste for traditionalon-stage-literature. Yet the sense of youth, nature and time exhaled here is rare on screen. A time capsule of what France/the Nouvelle Vague/personal feelings once been, it is a film to cherish even more for its lightness and beautiful integrity.

Thanks to Mrs Corbet of the SCEREN-CNDP for sending me the dedicated essay by Mrs Carole Desbarats at my request.


2 Responses to “Définitivement peut-être: A Summer tale”
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