Moral Tales: Love in the Afternoon

Co-presented by the French Film and TV Office

With a DJ set by Jim Smith from The Smell

“I dream of a life comprised of first loves and last loves…” muses Bernard Verley’s satiated Parisian lawyer in Rohmer’s final Moral Tale – at once the funniest, most probing, and arguably greatest of the series. Verley assures us, of course, that his wandering eye is purely part of his escapist routine, much like his beloved novels: fancies and fancies alone, that ultimately affirm his fidelity. That is, until his will is tested by après-midi encounters with Chloé, played by the iconic model and socialite Zouzou, whose free-wheeling, laissez-faire lifestyle offers an escape hatch from his comfortable bourgeois existence. Rohmer and his trusted cinematographer Nestor Almendros (Days of Heaven, frequent Truffaut collaborator) working at the height of their powers, marry refined classicism with the post-Nouvelle Vague‘s loose naturalism – a collection of stolen moments and cinematic reveries, like the story itself. After years of investigating the nature of male lust, Rohmer reaches a peace with monogamy in the film’s climax: that though we can’t stop ourselves from wanting what we don’t need, we may be surprised at how much we need what we don’t want.

Dir. Éric Rohmer, 1972, 35mm, 97 min.

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

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