PAULINE AT THE BEACH — CLASSIC FILM PICK
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French 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.
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 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.
“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.