“Ah, for the days / That set our hearts ablaze.” Éric Rohmer’s mid-career triumph follows a depressed, newly single Parisian secretary as she spends her summer vacation looking for happiness and true love. Starring Rohmer axiom Marie Rivière as the directionless Delphine, the film’s a masterpiece about unspoken feelings of melancholy and uncertainty, fashioned from the simplest of elements: a change in plans when a holiday falls through. It’s a rare chronicle of in-between moments and moods that’s proven hugely influential, with a glorious, unforgettable guest appearance by a sunset. Winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.
Eric Rohmer is one of the best at writing honest and complex characters. Watching his movies you get the feeling that the grandest of existential themes can be treated by following your unassuming neighbor on a trip to the beach or a walk in a garden. Writing The Worst Person in the World we revisited a lot of his films and his very original and idiosyncratic characters, and Le Rayon Vert (where Marie Rivière added a lot to the script and her character) is one we always come back to. There is an idea that a fascinating “anti-hero” or “flawed” character needs to be a man grappling with aggression or addiction or worse, but Rohmer shows us that they might just as well be self-destructive in more subtle, interesting and relatable ways. Rohmer’s subtlety is the power of his cinema. —Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt