“A thoroughly engaging experience for those in search of an artful, apt cinematic depiction of the concepts of love and time.”
by Ken Bakely
From 1990 to 1998, Éric Rohmer crafted the celebrated Tales of the Four Seasons series, a quadrilogy of romantic dramas, with each set in one of the seasons of the year. I have already reviewed A Summer’s Tale, and now I have decided to go back and look at the other entries. A Tale of Winter, the second film in the set, is as thoughtfully written and smartly helmed as one would expect from Rohmer. The screenplay explores the passage of time through contemplation and irreversibly random chance, and this combination is pivotal to the story exhibiting both philosophical musing and lively twists, climaxing in a heartwarming, if somewhat unbelievable, turn of events.
Charlotte Véry stars as Félice, a young woman raising her five-year-old daughter (Ava Loraschi) as a single parent. She has had to move back in with her mother (Christiane Desbois), after some troubles with both her job and old apartment. It didn’t have to be this way, but the problem is that she and the father of her daughter, a cook named Charles (Frédéric van den Driessche) have not seen each other since their initial meeting and whirlwind romance. They wanted to keep in touch, but as they parted ways and returned to their respective hometowns, Félice accidentally gave Charles an incorrect address, and no other method of contact had been established. Now, as Félice navigates her life, she explores job opportunities and newfound romantic interests, although no one has been able to replicate the wondrous holiday she spent with Charles a half-decade ago.
Rohmer’s talent here is telling a story through constant, interesting dialogue-heavy scenes, and that he can either show or tell. While A Tale of Winter’s 114 minute runtime can be a bit daunting as a result, Rohmer’s ability as a filmmaker is keenly re-established all the way through, guiding his talented actors and creating an ultimately enriching production. Véry is a talented leading actress, and she provides insight into the character of Félice through understated but undoubtedly emotional scenes and moments. As the heart and soul of the film, Véry leads the on-screen ensemble with intelligence and grace. “Intelligence and grace”, for that matter, is an apt descriptor for A Tale of Winter as a movie, and Rohmer’s intent as an auteur. The film is not particularly exciting by conventional standards, but is a thoroughly engaging experience for those in search of an artful, apt cinematic depiction of the concepts of love and time, concepts that Rohmer could film in ways that few other filmmakers can claim.