Friday, June 11, 2010


15th French Film Festival
Cinema 4, Shang Cineplex

The major character in this Eric Rohmer film is Sabine. She seems almost ordinary at first. She is averagely pretty, articulate and seems well adjusted to a middle-class existence.

She works in an antique shop in Le Mans where she lives with her younger sister and widowed mother. While the rest of the week she is in Paris studying for a degree in art history. She is also carrying on a casual affair with a married painter named Simon.

One night after she gets tired of playing second fiddle to Simon's children, she announces she is getting married. To whom? Sabine says she doesn't know. She hasn't met the guy, but she has no doubt that she soon will. Sabine is fed up with her single life.

This is more or less the jumping-off place for "Le Beau Mariage". Sabine might at first appear to be ordinary, but it soon becomes apparent that her ordinariness disguises a woman of intense emotional tenacity and moral conviction.

She is alternately sweet and ferocious as she puts into effect her plan to convince Edmond, a 30 something Parisian lawyer, that the two of them are made for each other, or at least as made for each other as any two people ever will. Under any other circumstances Sabine would probably be intolerable in the way she dogs the trail of poor Edmond and refuses to take his lack of telephone calls as a sign of indifference. But she is neither stupid nor arrogant. It seems she is totally convinced of the seemingly utter reasonableness of her plan.

I'd like to say that Sabine is one of the most convincingly intelligent characters I've encountered in a film. She is certainly not an intellectual, but she is a remarkably self-aware, engaging woman with a no-nonsense approach to her life.

The scope of the film is limited, but everything within it is well-defined and illuminating. One has the feeling of having met romantic characters who in no way deny the social and political complexities of the real world that exists just outside the view of the camera.

It is a witty, halcyon entertainment, especially in a season that has otherwise been notable mostly for extravagant overstatement and special effects.

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