Love in the Afternoon (1972)
Written and directed by Eric Rohmer
Produced by Pierre Cottrell, Barbet Schroeder
Starring Bernard Verley, Zouzou, Françoise Verley, Malvina Penne, Elisabeth Ferrier, Daniel Ceccaldi
His sixth and final Moral Tale conforms to the formula of Rohmer’s series: an ethical protagonist adherent to a principle or persuasion encounters a lively lady whose allure entices him through a sinuous sequence of events to violate his code or conviction — a temptation skirted by sly expedient. Actual spouses Bernard and Françoise reflect reality as a childed couple, he a cogitative attorney wed to her gravid undergraduate, for whom his adoration’s not a whit diminished by the beauteous, quotidian spectacle of strange sylphs though wandering eyes. Enter a capricious barmaid and sometime model (Zouzou), a former acquaintance whose continual, conversational rendezvous comfort him while compounding a restlessness issuing from marital monotony. By purportedly incidental circumstances, she adopts the roles of his friend, dependant and repository to insinuate herself into his spare hours, but her libidinous objective connotes neither commitment nor any fleeting fling. Meditative narration and interaction of a grace to match that of his leisurely, fastidiously framed zooms and pans typify Rohmer’s limpid restraint, here in address of suburban malaise and the struggle to reconcile integrity and libido. However, the redoubtable purveyor of personal realism departs amusingly from form during a reverie wherein a philter empowers Verley to seduce femmes (Haydée Politoff, Françoise Fabian and Marie-Christine Barrault, Aurora Cornu and Laurence de Monaghan) of three anteceding Moral Tales…save one…! From an era when casual advoutry was nigh pro forma, this affirmation of constancy posited that the most challenging amatorial thrill may be found in an embrace not of assignation, but waiting at home.

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