Combustible Celluloid
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With: Andy Gillet, Stéphanie Crayencour, Cécile Cassel, Mathilde Mosnier, Jocelyn Quivrin
Written by: Eric Rohmer, based on a novel Honoré d'Urfé
Directed by: Eric Rohmer
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: French with English subtitles
Running Time: 109
Date: 09/01/2007

The Romance of Astrea and Celadon (2008)

1 Star (out of 4)

A Report from SFIFF

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Here's the problem with the French auteur theory: if a certified auteur like Eric Rohmer makes a film as bloody awful as The Romance of Astrea and Celadon, you're still supposed to take it seriously and find something worthwhile within it. Rohmer is masterful at making contemporary films about smart, young French people who talk a lot and eventually fall in love (or not). The best of these are the ones that fall into his three series: "Six Moral Tales," "Comedies and Proverbs" and the "Four Seasons." When he deviates from this successful formula, (as with his last two films), Rohmer is a bit harder to take. Based on a novel by Honoré d'Urfé, The Romance of Astrea and Celadon is set in the 5th century, when shepherds dressed and acted like passive, helpless women. The movie depends on grand overwhelming passions, sending spectators into collective swoons, but Rohmer's approach is too intellectual. He never even gets close to the corporeal level the material demands. The hero argues with his beloved and tries to kill himself. Nymphs rescue him, he whines and frets a lot and eventually disguises himself as a girl to win her back. The only thing missing is a scene in which he weeps while watching "Oprah" and then asks someone to open a tight jar lid for him. (Note: the novel was written in the 17th century, but the story is set in the 5th century.)

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