There is a sense of both melancholy and hope in this strong effort by Rohmer as he fashions a drama about the unwavering faith of a single mother who believes in her own idiosyncratic conception of love.
Cast: Charlotte Very, Frederic van den Driessche, Michel Voletti, Herve Furic, Ava Loraschi
Plot: One summer, the young Felicie and Charles fall deeply, passionately in love. Five years later, after accidentally giving him a false address, she is raising his child and drifting back and forth between two infatuated men with whom she’s unwilling, or unable, to settle down.
Awards: Won FIPRESCI Prize, Prize of the Ecumenical Jury – Special Mention & Nom. for Golden Bear (Berlinale)
Distributor: Les Films du Losange
Subject Matter: Moderate – Love; Settling Down; Idealism
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse
This is one of Eric Rohmer’s strongest works from the 1990s, a phase marked best by his ‘Four Seasons’ series of films, which includes A Tale of Winter.
If A Tale of Springtime (1990) is a quiet, modest start and A Summer’s Tale (1996) a galvanising piece, Winter is both melancholic and hopeful, a vibe best produced through performance and personality by Charlotte Very.
She plays Felicie, a single mother who longs for the father of her child to reappear into her life again after providing him with the wrong address (an utterly silly mistake really!) after a romantic liaison.
It has been a few years, but her faith is unwavering, yet she is also torn between two other men whom she has tried to envision a married life with since.
“If the soul lives on afterwards, why didn’t it live before?”
I’ll admit that it is sometimes frustrating to see what these two men have to put up with—a fickle-minded woman unsure of what she really wants. But if a woman believes staunchly only in herself and her idiosyncratic conception of love, perhaps we are too naïve to judge.
This love-hate engagement with Felicie is what makes her one of Rohmer’s most fascinating characters. She is as insecure as she is self-confident, independent in thought yet highly dependent on conversations with (mostly) men to crystallise her views.
As Christmas and the New Year set in, Rohmer’s capturing of the jolly, wintry holidays is matched by intelligent discourse in the warmth of the indoors, be it in a moving car or a friend’s apartment.
As sparks sometimes fly, or personal faith called into question, these characters face a mounting existential crisis about what the future holds.