A delightful Rohmer omnibus as four short films featuring the two titular characters—one a countryside girl, the other a city girl—give us an intellectual if light-hearted take on how independent women can thrive in a manipulative society.
Dir. Eric Rohmer
1987 | France | Drama/Comedy | 99 mins | 1.37:1 | French
Not rated – likely to be PG13
Cast: Joelle Miquel, Jessica Forde
Plot: Two young girls meet, Reinette from the country and Mirabelle from the city, and decide to find a flat together in Paris
Awards: Official Selection (Toronto)
Source: Les Films du Losange
Subject Matter: Moderate – Life, Ways of Seeing, Society, Women
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse
After seeing two unorthodox films from Eric Rohmer back-to-back in The Marquise of O (1976) and Perceval (1978), it’s great to be back on familiar territory with Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle, a film that is part of a string of wonderful critical successes in the ‘80s that mostly centered on youths or young adults trying to make sense of the world, almost always through the lens of romance and the prospect (or perils) of marriage.
In that context, Reinette and Mirabelle appears to be an anomaly in that the narrative doesn’t tackle that kind of subject matter. Instead, Rohmer’s work here features the two titular characters conversing about everything under the sun except men—well, talking about trying to pass the Bechdel test with flying colours.
Broken up into four chapters, or four short films in an omnibus if you like, Rohmer’s work is a light-hearted take on how independent women can thrive in a manipulative society.
“A ripe strawberry’s better than a green one, but until you’ve tasted them, you don’t know.”
We have, on one hand, a countryside girl (Reinette), and the other, a city girl (Mirabelle), who serendipitously meet in the country during a holiday when the former helps the latter repair a punctured bicycle tyre.
Each chapter works delightfully on its own terms, with the first one titled ‘The Blue Hour’ the longest of the quartet, a companion piece of sorts to Rohmer’s The Green Ray (1986) as both build up to a transcendental moment of natural phenomenon.
My favourite’s probably the last segment, “Selling the Painting”, as Rohmer utilises—and interrogates—the nature of silences, quite the irony considering his films are considered the most ‘talky’ of all his New Wave counterparts.