A Summer’s Tale @ The Ross

Gaspard (Melvil Poupaud)

Gaspard (Melvil Poupaud)

Sometimes I think plans and schedules, among other organizing tools, are gremlins that seduce us into thinking that we really can order our world. We know them all too well, but as the Scottish poet Robert Burns warns us, “best laid plans of mice and men often go awry!” Indeed, plans, calendars, reminders, etc. are folly to the gods, and I’d bet my last dollar that the gods dispense these mischievous gremlins to taunt us with the notion that we can control every minute of our day!

The late French Director and French New Wave devotee Eric Rohmer explores this reality in his emotionally intelligent film A Summer’s Tale. Set in the North of France, A Summer’s Tale is … well … a tale about a usual summer’s vacation taken by an ordinary young man named Gaspard (Melvil Poupaud), who, in a few weeks will enter the adult world via employment at a boring job.

He strolls the beach and plays his guitar all in anticipation of a call from his girlfriend, Lena (Aurelia Nolin), whom he hopes will join him for the excursion. In the meantime, Margot, a waitress (Amanda Langlet) becomes his companion; they take day trips filled with conversations about what is important in life and relationships. When he tells her that Lena is the source of his angst, Margot morphs into his confidant. Discouraged by the hit-or-miss situation caused by Lena’s non-committal attitude, he considers Margot’s suggestion to romance her friend Solene (Gwenaelle Simon), which is an easy transition since Solene is attracted to Gaspard.

A Summer’s Tale is finely-tuned story that forces us to think about how we resolve issues of intimacy when we change in the absence of our partners-in-romance. Rohmer, who died in 2010, left the film world this intimate tear sheet of a story that dispenses a sliver of light to ward off those nasty gremlins that taunt us over our best laid plans. In the midst of clearing them out of our space, we can turn the other cheek and smile in the knowledge that THIS is life. Margot and Gaspard and Solene do just that.

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