17 February 2021

Éric Rohmer's La Carrière de Suzanne | Suzanne's Career (1963)


Rohmer's Six Contes Moraux are somewhat mistranslated as Six Moral Tales because he was in fact talking not about 'moral' in the English sense but about what people feel and think, their analyses of situations or their own feelings. He makes this clear in his interview with Graham Petrie in Film Quarterly (vol. 24, no. 4, pp. 38-9, 1971). It's also interesting that at the time Rohmer never intended to release the first two 16mm films (La Boulangère de Monceau and La Carrière de Suzanne), at the time considering them 'very amateur'.

La Carrière de Suzanne concerns the relationship of pharmacy student Bertrand (Philippe Beuzen) with his Science-Po student friend and womaniser Guillaume (Christian Charrière) and Suzanne (Catherine Sée). Guillaume, who initially chatted up Suzanne, uses her mainly financially until she no longer has any money, which embarrasses Bertrand, although for some reason he looks up to Guillaume so makes no direct objections.

Bertrand has a liking for Sophie (Diane Wilkinson), who is really out of his league. But in the end – one of those surprise endings of which Rohmer was so fond – Suzanne marries the handsome Franck (Patrick Bauchau). Amateurish might well be an apt description, but (like La Boulangère de Monceau before) this film contains the germ of Rohmer's later movies.

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