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With: Amanda Langlet, Arielle Dombasle, Pascal Greggory, Féodor Atkine, Simon de La Brosse, Rosette
Written by: Eric Rohmer
Directed by: Eric Rohmer
MPAA Rating: R
Language: French, with English subtitles
Running Time: 95
Date: 02/01/1983

Pauline at the Beach (1983)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Tongue Critique

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Pauline at the Beach is the third of Eric Rohmer's six "Comedies and Proverbs" films, based on the proverb "He who talks too much will hurt himself" or "A wagging tongue bites itself." Fifteen year-old Pauline (Amanda Langlet) and her older cousin, the curvy blonde Marion (Arielle Dombasle), take a late summer vacation at the beach. Marion runs into her old friend Pierre (Pascal Greggory), a handsome windsurfer, who loves her. But she also meets the older, balding and more cynical Henri (Feodor Atkine) and proceeds to throw herself at him. Meanwhile, Pauline meets a perfectly nice young fellow her own age, Sylvain (Simon de La Brosse), though Marion thinks she can do better. The turning point comes when Henri has an afternoon fling with a candy girl Louisette (Rosette). Marion arrives, and Henri pushes both Louisette and Sylvain in the bathroom together. Henri is cleared, but now it looks like Sylvain was cheating on Pauline. Jealous Pierre tries to straighten things out, but his is the "wagging tongue" that bites itself. This is a perfect example of Rohmer, with a gorgeous, relaxing summery atmosphere and characters ready to flit off to dinner, or swimming or spending the night on a whim. Each character is intelligent enough to analyze their own feelings and desires, though their opinions can change over the course of the film. Rohmer's point seems to be that the sexually innocent Pauline is the most honest character because she hasn't yet learned to deceive. When she sleeps with Sylvain for the first time, it just happens naturally with no delusion. But the most interesting thing about the film is that the handsome, surfing ladykiller Pierre ends up alone; all that self-analysis and self-deception have led the girls off in skewed directions.

MGM released this film on DVD in 2003, and it's a very good transfer, highlighting Nestor Almendros's exquisite cinematography. It's letterboxed and has removable subtitles, unlike the many Fox Lorber editions of Rohmer's films. The only extra is a trailer. MGM also released Rohmer's A Tale of Springtime (2000). In 2016, Kino Lorber released a Blu-ray edition with a gorgeous new picture and sound. A liner notes booklet contains an essay by Michelle Orange, and there's a vintage video interview with Rohmer as well as a trailer.

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