Moral Tales: Claire's Knee

Co-presented by the French Film and TV Office

“Something close to a perfect film… Claire’s Knee unfolds like an elegant fairy tale in a series of enchanted and enchanting encounters, on the lake, in gardens heavy with blossoms, in interiors that look like Vermeers… it is so funny and so moving, so immaculately realized, that almost any ordinary attempt to describe it must, I think, in some way diminish it,” wrote The New York Times‘ Vincent Canby in 1971.

Arguably Rohmer’s masterpiece, the fifth installment of his Moral Tales sextuplet, Claire’s Knee, traces the lustful pangs of Jérôme, a diplomat stationed at Lake Annecy in Western France, as he encounters and muses with Aurora, a wizened novelist, and two teenage girls. Unfolding in a novelistic, stream-of-consciousness style across July 1970, Claire’s Knee achieves as close to pure heartbeat-editing as ever attempted in French cinema. The moody photography (Rohmer’s second film in color) is utterly entrancing; the performances deftly subtle; the drama purely human. Canby placed the film within the company of Intolerance, Rear Window, and My Darling Clementine – works that not only attest to the power of the cinematic form, but could only exist because of it.

Dir. Éric Rohmer, 1970, 35mm, 105 min.

Print courtesy of the Institut Français. Special thanks to the Cultural services of the French Embassy.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!