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AUTUMN TALE

SYNOPSIS:
Isabelle's (Marie Rivière) best friend, divorced Magali (Bèatrice Romand), has a terrific little vineyard, a grown up son - but no man. While she wants to meet one, she doesn't know how to go about it. Isabelle suggests a personal ad in the local paper, but Magali is not into that. Her son's girlfriend Rosine (Alexia Portal) is also trying to matchmake - with her own ex-boyfriend, who was her philosophy professor, Etienne (Didier Sandre). Isabelle plots a gentle plan.

"A simple story beautifully told, Autumn Tale is a perfect example of the power of good writing in filmmaking. Without forced sensationalism, without devices and without pushy emotional scenes, Eric Rohmer delivers a brilliantly balanced and judged screenplay, directed with observant compassion - and respect for his audience. The symbolism of autumn in the human condition is understated, and the harvest of Maglia's vines is perfectly placed to complete the metaphor at the end of the film. But these things occur to us as we walk away and are never signposted or stamped onto the screen. The subtleties of the characters - which help build three dimensional people we can relate to - are likewise teased out by a director whose experience has clearly taught him well (he was born in 1920). It's a joy from start to finish, from the gorgeous French countryside in autumn, with the villages and the vineyard lovingly (but not cornily) shot, to the faultless performances. Avoiding sentimentality, Rohmer treats romance as grown up love here, important for all the right reasons."
Andrew L. Urban

"Eric Rohmer brings his eye for detail and ear for dialogue to the final in his Tales of the Four Seasons series, An Autumn Tale. As with the other films in this series, the film is concerned with issues in the lives of ordinary people - albeit those living in the picturesque Rhone Valley. He creates what is essentially a sophisticated French farce of love, coincidence and mistaken identity. What sets it apart from lesser films of the genre is its unwavering humanity and sympathy for the characters; notwithstanding their foibles. The central character of Magali is a strong-willed and fiercely independent woman; but we’re shown her other side as well, the vulnerable, tender side. The main plot line is supported by a number of subplots, some of which work better than others. However, the one involving the young Rosine and her much older ex-lover is a standout. There’s plenty of humour in the story; but don’t expect belly-laughs. This is a very gentle style of humour; one which brings a wry smile rather than a guffaw. As you’d expect, the film is beautiful to look at, helped no end by rolling countryside, quaint French towns and medieval villas. Beatrice Romond is great as Magali and is ably supported by a cast of lesser-known faces (at least in this country). Marie Riviere does a sterling job as the kind-hearted but meddling Isabelle. An Autumn Tale is a thoughtful film of delicate delights, and one of the relatively few French films to reach these shores in recent times. Catch it while you can."
David Edwards

"Shot on a low budget, this new film by renowned septuagenarian French director, Eric Rohmer, has plenty of flaws as well as some really strong elements to recommend it. Chief among these is the joy of lead female characters in their mid forties who are intelligent, capable, contented, and not pretending to be silly young things. The joy of European cinema. There's also something nice about simply being in the company of these characters, both male and female. They seem real, honest. Little wonder, as Rohmer has worked with the chief players on many a film. Rohmand is assured in her handling of Magali, while Libolt is a pleasure to watch as the confused (by the situation) but self assured Gerald. Technically, the film is surprisingly amateurish. Both the cinematography and the editing are clunky. Establishing scenes that should be over in a flash are with us for a very long time as we watch a car approaching from any number of angles. This contributes to the very long time the film takes to engage us in its story. Other difficulties with engagement may or may not be attributable to the translation. As a non-French speaker, one can only rely on the subtitles, which suggest the characters are sprouting the most inane and ill-fitting dialogue. Perhaps, perhaps not. Still, Rohmer presents us with a gentle comedy, one that is beautifully driven by complex characters who are a delight to be with."
Lee Gough

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

AUTUMN TALE (M15+)

(Conte D'Automne)
(France)

CAST: Beatrice Romand, Marie Riviere, Didier Sandre, Alain Libolt

DIRECTOR: Eric Rohmer

PRODUCER: Françoise Etchegaray, Eric Rohmer

SCRIPT: Eric Rohmer

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Diane Baratier, Franck Bouvat, Bethsabée Dreyfus, Jérôme Duc-Maugé, Thierry Faure

EDITOR: Mary Stephen

MUSIC: Claude Marti, Gérard Pansanel, Pierre Peyras, Antonello Salis

RUNNING TIME: 111 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Gil Scrine Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney: February 3, 2000; Adel, Melb & ACT – Feb. tba

Awards etc: Silver Lion, Best Screenplay, Venice Film Festival, 1998

VIDEO RELEASE: August 14, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Siren Entertainment






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