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Fox Lorber presents
A Summer's Tale (Conte d'été) (1996)

"She's not in love with me. I feel she doesn't take me seriously. At least for now. We planned to vacation together, then she left for Spain with her sister."
- Gaspard (Melvil Poupaud)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: September 28, 2000

Stars: Melvil Poupaud, Amanda Langlet, Gwenaëlle Simon, Aurelia Nolin
Other Stars: Aime Lefevre, Alain Guellaff, Evelyne Lahana, Yves Guérin, Franck Cabot
Director: Eric Rohmer

Manufacturer: DVCC
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (Brief nudity)
Run Time: 01h:49m:04s
Release Date: September 12, 2000
UPC: 720917524023
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A B+A-A- D+

DVD Review

Born Jean-Marie Maurice Scherer in Nancy, France, Eric Rohmer was a founding editor of La Gazette du Cinema in 1950, along with a group of writers who would go on to define the French "New Wave" of cinema: François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, and Jacques Rivette. He cowrote a book on Hitchcock with another noted director, Claude Chabrol, in 1957. Rohmer's film career consists primarily of three themed sets of films, beginning in 1962 with an expanded short film, La Boulangère de Monceau (The Girl At The Monceau Bakery) the first of his conte moreaxor Six Moral Tales, which would also include award-winning films such as L'Amour l'après-midi (aka Chloe In The Afternoon), Le Genou de Claire (aka Claire's Knee), and Ma nuit chez Maud (aka My Night At Mauds), which was nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar® in 1969. His Comedies and Proverbs set followed, which again had characters who were exploring their moral dilemmas throughout the course of each film. This set of five films included 1981's La Femme de l'aviateur (The Aviator's Wife), Pauline à la plage (Pauline At The Beach), and L'Ami de mon amie (Boyfriends And Girlfriends). At the age of 70, he began his third film set with Conte de printemps (aka A Tale of Springtime) in 1990, named after the four seasons.

The third in this Four Seasons Cycle, A Summer's Tale takes place in Dinard, a resort town in Britanny. Gaspard (Melvil Poupaud), a young math graduate, takes a vacation before starting his first job in a few weeks, and hopes to meet up with his "sort of" girlfriend Lena, who is supposed to return their after taking off with her sister for Spain. His first days in town are spent wandering around alone, visiting the beach, and playing his guitar. After running into Margot (Amanda Langlet, who also appeared in Rohmer's 1983 Pauline à la plage), a waitress he had briefly met the evening before, the two begin a friendly companionship, sharing long walks in and around town, during which the two discuss their relationships, with Gaspard expressing his insecurities and doubts about his relationship with Lena, a girl he knows doesn't love him, and his lack of clarity on his feelings towards her as well.

As the days pass since Lena was supposed to return, Gaspard begins wondering about taking a summer lover, but when his awkward advances towards Margot are deflected, she directs his attentions towards Soléne (Gwenaëlle Simon), another girl Margot noticed him eyeing at a discotheque. When Soléne returns the interest, Gaspard abandons Margot and sets off to Soléne's uncle's house, and the two enjoy a day singing a sea chanty Gaspard had composed, while sailing on the uncle's boat. However, Gaspard's attachment to Lena begins to surface again, causing Soléne to start issuing ultimatums, especially about an upcoming trip to Ouissent, a town Lena had wanted to visit with Gaspard. His relationship with Margot strained, Gaspard is then faced with a returning Lena (Aurelia Nolin), who turns his feelings around again. Unable to make a decision, he commits to all three women, but ultimately must figure out how to solve this crisis.

Rohmer's films are not big on action, but his use of conversation to explore the characters is well done. The acting in this film is very natural, and consists primarily of awkward conversations and explanations of feelings that are not understood by the characters. The film is structured in diary form, with intertitles counting off each day's events. As Gaspard's world gets more and more complicated, his options narrow, yet set up the decision he must ultimately reach. The locations are beautifully captured, and while one doesn't get a sense of much actually happening throughout the film, the situation is comedic, and though perhaps exaggerated, is not far from real life situations. Amanda Langlet is extremely good in her role as Margot, and Melvil Poupard's awkward fidgeting conveys a sense of reality. If you are in for a quiet film about young love and indecisiveness, A Summer's Tale will fit the bill nicely.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Presented in its original full frame aspect ratio, and the image is generally fairly decent with good color depth and no print damage. A few dark scenes tend to be greenish, with no solid black. There are a few problems with the presentation, such as blurring and jitter during pan shots. Compression artifacts are present in several scenes, though they aren't glaring. Edge enhancement does add unnecessary haloing to many scenes as well. Much of this would be unnoticable on smaller sets. Compared to some of the earlier Rohmer discs I've seen which tend to be washed out, this one is definately amongst the better looking.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The French audio track is clean, with no obvious defects. There is some location noise, but this is a dialogue driven film with no score, so this is to be expected. Optional yellow English subtitles are available.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Static filmography pages cover the four main cast members, and an awards section covers Rohmer's other films. DVD ROM link to a newsletter subscription with DVD production and film production credits. Not a whole lot to talk about here. Surprising for a Winstar release, there are whole 16 chapter stops, corresponding with each day's intertitle.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

Quaint, realistic and humorous, A Summer's Tale is a nonimposing look into the mind of an indecisive young man, facing his first real challenges in the field of love and commitment. Brought to life by Eric Rohmer, this is a film that may have you reminising about your own past relationships. Rohmer fans will not be disappointed, but others may find the lack of any real action tiresome.


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