Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Boyfriends & Girlfriends

Another filmmaker I've been watching a lot of is Eric Rohmer, who passed away earlier this year. He was a director associated with the French New Wave, who made films from the early 60's all the way up to his death. They remind me of the kind of films I love that Richard Linklater sometimes makes: low-stakes films about ordinary people having ordinary problems, told with deep insight and a delicate touch. From what I've seen, a typical Rohmer film is about a small group of people hanging out, talking about life and other ordinary crap, usually being faced with some sort of minor moral or emotional quandary. The films never tip over into heavy-drama or self-seriousness, they are sweet and playful, and kind of perfect.

Boyfriends & Girlfriends is primarily about Blanche, who finds herself in a tricky situation when her best friend announces that she's thinking of leaving her boyfriend. Blanche and the boyfriend start to sense a real connection together, and the friend has seemingly given Blanche her blessing, but something still doesn't sit right with Blanche. Part of the joy of a Rohmer film is the quiet, unforced way the romantic entanglements become wildly complex before anyone has realized what is going on, only to resolve themselves in a warm, humanist manner rather than resorting to false drama. Boyfriends & Girlfriends builds itself to a sublime climax in which Blanche and her friend make confessions to each other expecting to hurt the other's feelings, each thinking the other is talking about a different person. It's an old comedic setup, the conversation where every sentence can be taken two ways, but its handled with such grace and subtlety by Rohmer and the actresses that the audience doesn't even realize what is going on until the conversation has become wonderfully confusing for both participants.

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