Directed by Eric Rohmer
In Eric Rohmer's La rayon vert ("The Green Ray," released here as Summer), Parisian secretary Delphine (Marie Rivière) spends the film restlessly trying to find ways of spending her summer vacation. An idealist and outcast who is unable to give up on her own high-minded standards, Delphine might be seen as something of a pill by most directors, but Rohmer glorifies her ability to resist temptation, especially in a long scene where she is made to explain her vegetarianism to a bunch of unfriendly meat-eaters. At one point, one of these meat-eaters calls Delphine "a plant," and if this is true, she might be seen as a weeping willow forever crying with frustration, but Rohmer views her frequent crying jags as part of her valiant struggle to remain open when all of the people around her are trying to make her settle for less. Delphine is the sort of person who would rather be unhappy than compromise her own expectations of life; this is a woman who's idea of beach reading is Dostoyevsky's The Idiot. Rohmer relies on Rivière, who wrote most of her role herself, to ground his limpid study of a somewhat tiresome but radiant heroine waiting for salvation, and she manages to do that with a steady flurry of hopeful, slightly fumbling physical gestures with her hands and a persistent tic of looking up at the sky as if she's playing the coquette for God. In the miraculous conclusion, Delphine is rewarded for her faith, and Rohmer seems to catch a kind of spiritual lightning in a bottle for the close of one of his very finest films.