We lost another master this week, the former Cahiers du Cinema film critic and filmmaker Eric Rohmer, who was 89. He has long been a staple of art houses. If you were a cinema buff that came of age in the 1970s, you probably saw his "Six Moral Tales" series. If your time was the 1980s, you probably saw some of the six "Comedies and Proverbs" films. And if it was the 1990s, you may have seen some of his "Tales of the Four Seasons." As a critic, I was honored to review the last of these, Autumn Tale (1998), which I saw as a flat-out masterpiece. Although I felt bad when I reviewed his final film last year, The Romance of Astrea and Celadon, and found it nearly unbearable. (Though many others have defended it. Maybe I was too hasty?)
Rohmer's films were known for their talking, and I believe there was once a crack about his films being like "watching paint dry." The real secret of Rohmer's films is that they're all about smart, well-spoken people. They are studious and know lots of things. They may even be "experts" on human nature. When they fall in love or get stuck in some kind of romantic tangle, their first reaction is to try to reason their way out, using logic and words. In the end, however, there are no words or reasons or logic that can withstand the power of love. The characters are silenced as the credits roll, but the emotions linger on.