Goodbye Dollies

Film Review : "Conte d'Eté" - "A Summer Tale"

posterfilm.jpg (14k)
by M. Fox

Paris:- Wednesday, 26. June 1996:- Gaspard, with backpack and guitar in hand, arrives at one of Brittany's coastal resort towns for a few weeks of summer holidays. For the first few days he wanders around the town, keeping mostly to himself; returning at night to his room to play the guitar instead of going out to the local popular bars and discothèques.

Eventually Gaspard heads for the beach for a swim and is befriended there by Margot, a waitress. Over the next couple of days they become increasingly comfortable with each other during their long walks along the coast. Neither wants to become more than friends however, since Margot has a temporarily absent boyfriend and Gaspard is in fact hoping to meet up with another girl, Léna, through some vague prearrangement.

The days pass and Léna doesn't appear, so Margot encourages Gaspard to find another girl instead and points out that her friend Solène seems interested in him. While at first reluctant with the idea, a chance meeting with Solène convinces him otherwise, and they both take a quick liking to each other.

Gaspard is later telling Margot about the joys of this new relationship when he discovers that Margot may be jealous of Solène; having deeper feelings for him than either of them realized.

Léna at this point does finally show up.

Gaspard still feels strongly towards Léna, but Léna is not being as cooperative as he would like; she is now more interested in keeping things at a friendship level than otherwise. So now Gaspard doesn't know whether to continue with Solène who he is just getting to know, and likes; or whether Léna is still interested in him to the extent that he is interested in her; nor what to do about the fact that he has proposed to take each of the three girls to the same romantic spot on an island off the tip of Brittany - but he doesn't have enough vacation time left to do so with each of them.

Just at the point where he is will be forced to decide between Léna and Solène, an opportunity for a face-saving escape presents itself, and Gaspard immediately skips out of town; but not without first saying goodbye to Margot.

In their parting, both Margot and Gaspard are now fully aware of the extent and value of their friendship, and perhaps love. However Margot informs him of her boyfriend's imminent return so... goodbye Gaspard! goodbye Margot!

On the surface of things it would seem that Gaspard lost out on all sides - maybe, maybe not. Sure, he left without having secured a girlfriend in Léna, didn't have much of a summer romance with Solène, and didn't get to sleep with any of the girls although he wanted to. He was left with a real friend in Margot.

He was no longer sure how much he was 'in love' with Léna anyhow, and since Léna wanted to be 'just' friends with him, we would have expected them to have remained as such. Solène was still basically unmapped territory and anything could still happen between these two - and probably would. So he got himself into a jam, or circumstances did, or both, but he did get out of it and maybe learned something - part of being young - part of becoming wiser, perhaps - part of life.

And he burned no bridges to future relationships with any of the three.

The film, with its' straight-forward camera work, small and talented cast, the relaxed and scenic summer holiday setting, and its' amusing but meaningful story, resulted in what I found to be a charming film. Adding to this charm was the musical flavor presented directly through Gaspard's own song writing and guitar playing in the film, which was also the underlying melody throughout.

This is the third film in a series with seasonal themes for backgrounds; it follows the 'winter' and 'spring' films. "A Summer Tale" was directed by Eric Rohmer. A romantic comedy, French, 1995, 113 minutes.

The main characters in the story were played by Amanda Langlet, Melvil Poupaud, Aurélie Nolin and Gwenaëlle Simon.

Camera by Diane Baratier, sound by Pascal Ribier and the film was produced by Françoise Etchegaray. This film was fifth in Paris for number of tickets sold this week.

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