Full Moon in Paris

| November 10, 2015

The defining auteur ability of Eric Rohmer is filling a simple tale with a semester’s worth of philosophy. Debates, pensive train rides, obsessions over Blaise Pascal. The director went so far as to conceive a series of ‘Comedies et Proverbs’ which, true to the title, formulated a narrative around philosophical maxims. The line in Full Moon in Paris goes, ‘He who has two lovers, loses his soul. He who has two homes, loses his mind.’

Louise has recently graduated university and is now living with boyfriend Remi in the Parisians suburbs. The commute is long, yes, but their home is ‘at least near to the station’. In Paris, however, Louise owns a recently renovated apartment. ‘For what?’, her inquisitive friend Pascal constantly badgers, since Louise has a perfectly good home (and lover) in the suburbs. ‘To experience loneliness’, the young woman replies. However Pascal, as well as boyfriend Remi, certainly suspect other reasons for the quaint city apartment. Reasons that are not filled with much loneliness.

Rohmer was known to work with a skeleton crew. A boom, camera operator, and the director. This simplicity exudes throughout nearly all of his work. Full Moon in Paris is no exception. Settings include a rather sparse suburban home, a small apartment, and a few cafes and nightclubs in Paris. Rohmer, as usual, the characters define the environment rather than the other way around. As mentioned, this philosophical interplay is integral to driving a Rohmer narrative and promoting a particular atmosphere.

Yet there is also another aesthetic tool at play. Notice the starkly divided pastel red and blue in flowers, clothing, and various other accessories. A obvious nod to Piet Mondrian. In each proceeding scene, the director seeks to increasingly utilize this subtle device to fulfill the divisive nature of his “two houses equal madness” proverb.

Pascale Ogier, the wandering ‘Louise’, died shortly after the film’s completion. (David Tomson equates the 26-year old’s unfortunate death from a heart attack to drug use.) A messy personal life, however, did not prevent Miss Ogier from being posthumously awarded Best Actress at 1984’s Venice Film Festival. Charmingly aloof and the ever-pleasant egoist, her portrayal of Louise personifies the contradictory idealism so apparent in Rohmer’s characters. We, the audience, are not meant to sympathize with these always physically attractive personalities. Rather the point is, through the simple realism portrayed on screen, to acknowledge the fault within these obviously-flawed beings.

While entertaining and pleasing to the aesthetic palette, Full Moon in Paris is predictable. The journey from beginning to conclusion is enjoyable, yes, but the power of French Drama is the ability to skew established narrative. Especially in regards to Eric Rohmer.

Instead of being a masterpiece of the (wildly rich) post Nouvelle Vague era, Full Moon in Paris is simply sensual convention.

About the Author:

Daniel currently resides in New York City working as a freelance writer and director. He is a graduate of the Film and Video department of Columbia College, specializing in Italian Neo-realism and French & British New Wave cinema.
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