Rendezvous In Paris

on June 28, 1996 by Alex Albanese
   "Rendezvous in Paris" is the 22nd feature film by French director Eric Rhomer, best known for his 1969 hit "My Night at Maude's." Like his New Wave counterparts Truffaut and Godard, Rohmer was a "Cahiers du Cinema" critic who began making his own films. Though he shared the New Wave's extemporaneous aesthetic, Rohmer's strong, apolitical Catholicism always placed him apart from his more leftist brethren. Thirty-five years later, "Rendezvous in Paris" still has many of the hallmarks of classic '60s French cinema: simple camerawork, natural lighting, the follies of l'amour. Composed of three short vignettes, "Rendezvous in Paris" begins with a strikingly modest title sequence, hand-lettered on white paper with a stencil and magic markers like the cover of a sixth-grade book report. They are charming--in a coy, knowing sort of way, yet also a bit too easily off-the-cuff. The same can be said for the film; each vignette is fine, as far as it goes, but none go very far.
   The segment "Seven O'Clock Rendezvous" has a cliched storyline full of outrageous coincidence that would seem facile in a student film. Rohmer knows this, and he has enough talent to pull it off, but you still end up wishing he'd forced himself to work harder. "The Benches of Paris" has the most interesting set-up--an illicit affair that takes place only in public parks--but the easily led young man, and the woman who won't meet the poor sap indoors, both quickly become annoying. The most successful of the three is "Mother and Child"--an in-depth look at the romantic posturing of a painter with much more ego than talent. Bookended by a shot of two street musicians that is so odd it seems to be from another film, "Rendezvous" is an old dog performing an old trick. Rohmer's most successful element is Paris itself--presented in a simple, direct way, the city is as alluring as it has ever been.    Starring Clara Bellar, Serge Renko, Michael Kraft and Benedicte Loyen. Directed and written by Eric Rohmer. Produced by Francoise Etchegaray. An Artificial Eye release. Comedy. French-language; subtitled. Unrated. Running time: 100 min.
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