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May 05, 2016

PAULINE AT THE BEACH — CLASSIC FILM PICK

COLE SMITHEY

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Pauline_at_the_Beach_posterFrench New Wave master Eric Rohmer exquisitely captures French sensibilities regarding love, lust, jealousy, and romantic ideals as they stretch across generational gaps.

This sensual “coming-of-age” comedy shows how innocent youth is corrupted by the hypocrisies of game-playing adults whose varying views of romance can’t help veering toward exploitation wherever opportunity allows.

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Rohmer’s casting of Amanda Langlet as Pauline, a 15-year-old girl in more control of her identity that any of the adults around her, is a masterstroke. Langlet’s nubile beauty and humor is infectious.

Pauline-at-the-beach

Pauline spends a short vacation with her older (recently divorced) cousin Marion (Arielle Dombasle) at a family vacation home near the coast of Normandy. Marion baits her seemingly well-intentioned ex-lover Pierre (Pascal Greggory), by taking up with the ever-present Henri (Fedor Atkine), a slimy rascal if ever there was. Pauline enjoys an all too brief fling with a boy her age that becomes infected by the lies spread by the kids' elders.

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“Pauline at the Beach” is an acerbic study of romantic power games that the sexes play, and the destructive influence they have. Still, there is a nostalgic sweetness here that wafts like a French ocean breeze. It is a film that’s easy to love.

Rated R. 94 mins. 

5 Stars

Cozy Cole

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