1 December 2019

Éric Rohmer's Le Rayon Vert (1986)

Le Rayon Vert is the fifth (in other words penultimate) film in Rohmer's 'Comédies et proverbes' series*, which is an illustration from Rimbaud's 'Chanson de la plus haute tour': 'Ah ! que le temps vienne | Où les cœurs s'éprennent.' The title alludes to an optical and atmospheric phemomenon: the last ray of the sun, in clear weather conditions taking on a green appearance. This is mentioned by a bit-part character in the film. 

Delphine (Marie Rivière) learns that her girlfriend can't go on holiday to Greece with her for the summer holidays, so she tags along with a friend's visit to Cherbourg, but feels left out of things, she needs a male. So she goes to the French Alps on her own for a night, is unhappy, returns to Paris and then takes off for Biarritz, again on her own. There she meets an extroverted Swedish girl: trouble is, Delphine's introverted, and picking up any old guy and playing language games isn't her idea of fun.

And then, as she's waiting to take the train back from Biarritz she meets a guy who makes a remark on the Dostoevsky she's reading, he says he's going to Saint-jean-de-Luz. She asks if she can go with him, then he asks her to go to Bayonne with him, she sees the Rayon vert, and things are looking up, she thinks.

* The series consisted, with the author inspired in brackets where known, of La Femme de l'aviateur (1981) (Musset); Le Beau Mariage (1982) (La Fontaine); Pauline à la plage (1983) (Chrétien de Troyes); Les Nuits de la pleine lune (1984) (pseudo-Champenois proverb; Le Rayon vert (1986) (Rimbaud); and L'Ami de mon amie (1987) (proverb).

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