19 February 2021

Éric Rohmer's L'Amour l'après-midi | Love in the Afternoon (1972)


And so we come to the sixth and final film in the Six contes moraux series, after La Boulangère de Monceau and La Carrière de Suzanne, (both 1963); La Collectionneuse (1967); Ma nuit chez Maud (1969); and Le Genou de Claire (1970). Once again, this is a film of temptation in which the (male) partner returns to his former (chosen) partner.

Frédéric (Bernard Verley) is a businessman happily married to Hélène (Françoise Verley), who has given them one child and is pregnant for a second time. But Frédéric fantasies, dreaming that he has a magic amulet that entices any woman he approaches: cue for former actors in Rohmer's films to tantalisingly appear. His only failure is when his magic jewel was turned towards him.

And then the pushy, sexy, Chloé, ex-girlfriend of an ex-friend turns up, disrupting his life, causing gossip among his staff, and leaving gifts to his young son. How couldn't he not respond favourably, meet her in the afternoons when he's free, have wild sex with her? Um... No.

When Hélène has a second child Chloé wants a child by Frédéric, and when he visits her for a last time she's just coming out of the shower. He dries her, she waits naked on the bed, he begins to take his pullover off and realises he looks exactly like he was when playing ghost games with his son, so quietly leaves to return to his loving wife. No moral, just what Frédéric thinks.

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