Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle: Eric Rohmer Lite

07/20/2011 4:00 AM |

Four Adventures of Reinette 
and Mirabelle (1987)

Directed by Eric Rohmer

Deeming Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle “Eric Rohmer lite” will appear redundant to those who consider the late French New Wave legend’s films wispy; it will appear ill-fitting to those who consider them sublime. But as chronologically sandwiched between poignantly searching Summer (1986) and poignantly ironic Boyfriends and Girlfriends (1987), Four Adventures can’t help but feel obvious and unfocused by comparison, a rare frivolity in a career of consistently yet subtly varied studies of romantic and 
philosophical dilemmas.

And yet I’ll take it if only for first of the film’s four episodes, “The Blue Hour,” in which jaded city slicker Mirabelle (Jessica Forde) befriends bubbly country gal Reinette (Joëlle Miquel) in the latter’s quiet rural village. Introduced to the marvels of nature, Mirabelle becomes curious about the pre-dawn “blue hour” of perfect silence Reinette speaks of in nearly transcendent terms. The longed-for moment fosters an unspoken connection between the two young women that Rohmer captures with crepuscular photography and an ineffable, subdued magic.

After that, things get… broad. Reinette becomes Mirabelle’s roommate in Paris, the odd couple engaging in predictable encounters with rude waiters, hustling panhandlers and pretentious gallery owners. Rohmer fishes for morals and laughs in the vein of middling sketch-comedy—Reinette must sell her painting but has bet Mirabelle she can go a full day without talking! How will she get out of this one!?—and instead draws up mostly humorless fables that belabor the naïve and self-righteous Reinette’s disillusionment in the face of urban asperity. The casual charm that suffuses even the worst of Rohmer provides Four Adventures with its small pleasures—Forde and Miquel are both wonderful—but the weak call-back of the silence motif merely underlines the disparity between “The Blue Hour” and its lesser sister tales.

Opens July 20 at BAM