Newest Reviews
American Assassin
Die, Mommie, Die!
All the Money in the World
Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, The
Black Panther
Children's Hour, The
Guyver, The
Night School
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
Murders in the Rue Morgue
Wound, The
Let's Get Harry
Girl with Green Eyes
Sunchaser, The
Tom Jones
Defiant Ones, The
Centerfold Girls, The
Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, The
120 BPM (Beats Per Minute)
Police Academy 3: Back in Training
Safe Place, A
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
Entertainer, The
Newest Articles
A Yen for the 1990s: Iron Monkey and Satan Returns
Hey, Punk: Jubilee and Rock 'n' Roll High School
Help! with The Knack: Richard Lester in 1965
Roll Up, Get Yer Free Cinema: The Shorts on the BFI Woodfall Blu-rays
Time for Heroes: The Dam Busters and How I Won the War
Hell is a City: Midnight Cowboy and Taxi Driver
Boris Goes Bonkers, Bela Goes Bats: The Old Dark House and Mark of the Vampire
Charles Bronson's Mid-70s: Breakheart Pass and Others
Kids in America: The Breakfast Club vs Metropolitan
80s Dance-Off: Staying Alive vs Murder-Rock vs Breakin'
The Cinematic Darkside of Donald Crowhurst
Dutch Courage: The Flodder Series
Coming of Age: Boys on Film 18 - Heroes on DVD
Country and Irish - The secret history of Irish pop culture
Wash All This Scum Off the Streets: Vigilante Movies
  Summer's Tale, A Just pick one you idiot!Buy this film here.
Year: 1996
Director: Eric Rohmer
Stars: Melvil Poupaud, Amanda Langlet, Gwenaëlle Simon, Aurelia Nolin, Aimé Lefèvre, Alain Guellaff, Evelyne Lahana, Yves Guérin, Franck Cabot
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Maths graduate and aspiring musician Gaspard (Melvil Poupaud) spends his summer holiday in the Brittany coastal town of Dinard, waiting in vain to meet up with his on-off girlfriend. Between wandering the beach forlornly and composing tunes on his guitar, Gaspard strikes up a friendship with Margot (Amanda Langlet), an amiable student working a part-time job as a waitress at a local cafe. She becomes his confidante in a relationship that teeters on the edge of romance yet remains steadfastly platonic. Gaspard also attracts the eye of Solene (Gwenaëlle Simon), an alluring young woman who seems like an ideal match. He reluctantly agrees to go on holiday with her but is still fixated with his dream girl, Lena (Aurelia Nolin). Just when things seem like they could not get any more complicated for Gaspard, Lena finally arrives in town.

Oh no, you're in love with three different women. Oh no, they're all gorgeous. As dilemmas go this might not seem like one to evoke all that much sympathy but in the skilled hands of veteran French New Wave auteur Eric Rohmer A Summer's Tale proves a beguilingly nuanced study of the complexities of the human heart. Much as Rohmer did in the Sixties and Seventies with his Six Moral Tales – including the classics My Night at Maud's (1969) and Claire's Knee (1970) – and in the Eighties with the Comedies and Proverbs, notably the widely-praised Pauline at the Beach (1983), the Nineties saw him embark on a series of thematically-linked films exploring various romantic, moral and philosophical dilemmas. In this instance the Tales of the Four Seasons with A Summer's Tale sandwiched between A Tale of Springtime (1990), A Tale of Winter (1992) and Autumn Tale (1998). The young-guy-strings-along-three-different-girls plot has been a staple of movies and sit-coms for decades. Yet here Rohmer adapts this trite conceit into a subtle rumination on how people change before our eyes, our perception affected by context or circumstance and how the love that endures these changes is true.

Perhaps because the cast are younger and more ebullient than previous protagonists Rohmer takes a more indulgent view of their romantic foibles. In lesser hands Gaspard could come across as merely feckless yet as a result of Rohmer's sensitive direction coupled with the sweet-natured performance delivered by Melvil Poupaud we come to perceive him as genuinely conflicted and vulnerable. His fatal indecisiveness, faint cynicism and self-pity prove forgivable flaws, perhaps all too symptomatic of young men his age. The twenty-something malaise is a theme often derided by the older generation yet here Rohmer draws a parallel between Gaspard's indecisiveness when it comes to romance and his ongoing dilemma over which road to pursue in life, either mathematics or music. A Summer's Tale also touches on the idea of music providing a tangible and inspirational connection to our cultural heritage with a charming sub-plot wherein research into old sea chanties proves a shared voyage of discovery for Gaspard and Margot.

Although Rohmer sympathizes with Gaspard's romantic conflict he winningly ensures each of the young women in his life emerge as much more than clichéd rom-com love interests. Margot and Solene are especially beguiling, complex, vivacious and forthright characters with their own intriguing personal histories. Each proves more than capable of calling Gaspard out on his inability to make up his mind. Equally although Lena comes across as flighty and passive-aggressive she emerges as multifaceted as the other women in his life, arguably justified to a degree in her treatment of men. Nevertheless seeing Gaspard emotionally eviscerated by his dream girl provokes considerable sympathy even though, as Margot winningly points out towards the end, he really only has himself to blame. Fittingly for a story set in the summertime the film exudes the warmth of human kindness finding room in its big heart to forgive the mistakes made by young people the world over in pursuit of love.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 477 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film


Eric Rohmer  (1920 - 2010)

One of the directors of the French New Wave, Eric Rohmer, like his contemporaries, started his film career as a critic at the magazine Cahiers du Cinema, and after a few shorts made his first feature with Le signe du lion. My Night at Maud's was his first international hit, long after the other New Wave directors had made their initial impact, and set out his style as that of the "talk piece" where his characters, often young and middle class, conversed at great length in a way that exposed various truths about life as Rohmer saw them. His works were often grouped into cycles, and included Claire's Knee, Pauline at the Beach, Le Rayon Vert and his last, made when he was in his late eighties, The Romance of Astree and Celadon.

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
  Jamie Nichols
Andrew Pragasam
George White
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot


Last Updated: