Love in the Afternoon: The Criterion Collection
Frederic (Bernard Verley) is happily married. He loves his wife Helene (Francoise Verley), they have one child and another on the way, and they live in the countryside. And yet, he likes to be disconnected from this world. He likes to look at the women who live in town, and fantasizes about seducing them. Enter Chloe (Zouzou), a friend of one of his ex-girlfriends, who looks him up and comes to his office. The two have a flirtatious friendship. She comes by erratically, but often during the week in the afternoons, and Frederic loves the attention and the fact that he feels he can really talk to her. They have a non-relationship relationship with tons of mutual provocations, which eventually hits a point at which Frederic is offered the chance to have a no-strings-attached one night stand. In 1972's L'amour L'apres-midi ("Love in the Afternoon," also known as Chloe in the Afternoon), Eric Rohmer completes his six-film "Morality Tale" cycle with its final consideration on the temptations of adultery. As with each chapter, the details are what sets it apart. Frederic is much like his other brethren in the "moral" cycle they all have a wandering eye, but are mostly moral people. Here, Frederic's also been in a relationship for a while, and he wants to feel wanted again. But as with each chapter, it provokes a different sort of exploration of the moral grays of this sort of temptation. And what's so striking is how much reality Rohmer gets out of the enticement of infidelity. Frederic doesn't so much want to cheat, but he also doesn't want to stop the relationship that fills him with a greater sense of worth. He knows what he's doing, and he can't help enjoying the beginnings of a new and taboo relationship. What the character wants, it appears, is what Erica Jong wrote about a year later in her Fear of Flying: the "zipless fuck," in which he is able to not worry about the consequences of his actions and just indulge. But Rohmer's gift is leaving much of this open to the interpretation of the viewer, how he feels, and what draws him in: Some may see him as a leech, others may be drawn into his moral quandary. But when the film (and the cycle) concludes, it's on a brilliant emotional note that suggests that the moment this character re-enters the reality of his life, he has no choice but to be true to his character. The Criterion Collection presents Love in the Afternoon in a stunning full frame transfer (1.33:1 OAR) with DD 1.0 audio (French, with optional English subtitles). Extras include Rohmer's 1958 short film "Veronique and her Dunce" (18 min.), and an "Afterword by Neil Labute" (12 min.), who's obviously a fan. Theatrical trailer, folding digipak. Available exclusively in Criterion's "Eric Rohmer's Six Moral Tales" box-set.
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