Film Forum presents Eric Rohmer’s 1987 feature, Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle, the sister piece to his 1986 film, Le Rayon Vert (aka Summer). Over the course of four chapters, two young women –Reinette, from the city, and Mirabelle, from the country– meet when Reinette fixes Mirabelle’s flat bike tire. After bonding immediately, Reinette convinces Mirabelle to stay the night to experience the Blue Hour, the brief moment of perfect silence before dawn, after the night-birds stop singing and before the morning birds begin. This first of four episodes, Blue Hour takes it’s title from the atmospheric event, which Reinette treasures and Mirabelle has never experienced. Originally, the sunrise scenes were shot for Le Rayon Vert, so it’s befitting that they should open the film. The heavy use of silence throughout the film seems to be a conscious reaction against the popular critique of Rohmer’s oeuvre that his films are too dialog-heavy and tedious.
After the Blue Hour segment, the two room together in Paris, where they encounter many of the inevitable characters of a modern city: the impossible waiter (The Waiter), the metro station hustler (The Beggar, the Kleptomaniac and the Hustler), and the snooty gallery owner (Selling the Painting).
A few reason this film ruled:
+Excellent impromptu dance scene, with super cute dancing-feet close-ups
+Amazing soundtrack- by Jean-Louis Valéro and Ronan Girre (hear it in the embarrassingly awful trailer below, or the segment above with Spanish subtitles)
+Best titles and credits maybe ever. I deeply regret not taking cellphone pics.
+I’ll literally watch anything on 16mm
+Also a sucker for any film that features two young women doing what they want (Daisies/ Celine and Julie Go Boating/ Persona–well, sorta)
+Films chunked into chapters are the best
+The girls had great voices, and I actually understood their French
Quotes via Film Forum’s website:
4 ADVENTURES was made “while waiting to finish his masterpiece LE RAYON VERT. And guess what – it’s just as great.”
– Time Out New York
“A perfect example of Rohmer’s emphasis on people talking, relating and living… his multiple story film – one of his most charming – describes the Aesop’s Fable-style friendship of two young women. The simpliest incident becomes the most momentous occasion… belongs to that epiphanal period following LE RAYON VERT.”
– Armond White, New York Press
“This movie’s first chapter, ‘The Blue Hour,’ finds the sleepy girls waiting for that moment of complete silence just before daybreak. Blink and you’ll miss it, rustle and you’ll break the spell.”
– Rita Kempley, Washington Post
Article on The 4 Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle via Altscreen.
While not highly regarded (by some) in the expansive Rohmer canon, The 4 Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle stands as one of Rohmer’s most playful, if not hilarious features. Filmed quickly on 16mm while Rohmer was waiting to get decent sunset shots for his sublime Le Rayon vert (1986), The 4 Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle features mainly non-professional actors who improvised most of the witty and frank dialogue. Rohmer bookends the film with chintzy lo-fi electronic theme music, a sort of knowing wink by one of the original “new wavers” to the new-wave music of the 1980s, and perhaps to the emerging “indie” cinematic movement of the time as well. Yet Rohmer’s old-school (cinematic) “new wave” chops are working in full effect here. From the shaky vérité camerawork, to long discussions about morality and art, his romantic heart is working in cruise control, delivering a film that ably stands it’s own ground.
Caryn James for the New York Times:
As if making a joke about the famous talkiness of his films, Eric Rohmer’s latest work begins and ends with silence – or at least the idea of silence. In the first of the connected episodes in ”Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle,” the voluble Reinette treasures silence so much she wakes her friend Mirabelle before dawn to hear ”the blue hour,” which is not an hour but a second, not a sound but a brief silence between darkness and light, when the night birds stop singing and the day birds have not yet begun.
‘Four Adventures,” is more conspicuously comic, more overtly ethical, more pointed in its action than most of his recent works… Part of Mr. Rohmer’s genius, of course, is that he keeps creating such lives – ordinary and rarefied at once, almost but not quite beyond our grasp. No one actually lives in the world of a Rohmer film, where the name of a specific television show or rock star never mars a character’s timeless dialogue, where his characters’ heightened sense of everyday life seems absolutely adventurous. But the deep lure of his work is the suggestion that it is possible to be as articulate or as witty or even as extravagantly morose as a Rohmer character, to stumble across those undramatic moments of perfect grace on some beach or in some meadow.
Michael Joshua Rowin for L Mag:
Deeming Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle “Eric Rohmer lite” will appear redundant to those who consider the late French New Wave legend’s films wispy; it will appear ill-fitting to those who consider them sublime. But as chronologically sandwiched between poignantly searching Summer (1986) and poignantly ironic Boyfriends and Girlfriends (1987), Four Adventures can’t help but feel obvious and unfocused by comparison, a rare frivolity in a career of consistently yet subtly varied studies of romantic and philosophical dilemmas.
And yet I’ll take it if only for first of the film’s four episodes, “The Blue Hour,” in which jaded city slicker Mirabelle (Jessica Forde) befriends bubbly country gal Reinette (Joëlle Miquel) in the latter’s quiet rural village. Introduced to the marvels of nature, Mirabelle becomes curious about the pre-dawn “blue hour” of perfect silence Reinette speaks of in nearly transcendent terms. The longed-for moment fosters an unspoken connection between the two young women that Rohmer captures with crepuscular photography and an ineffable, subdued magic.
Jonathan Rosenbaum for Chicago Reader:
Four tales about Reinette (Joelle Miquel), a country girl who paints and operates according to certain principles, and Mirabelle (Jessica Forde), her less rigorous friend from the city; they meet in the country in the first episode and share an apartment in Paris during the remaining three. This feature was shot in 16-millimeter by Eric Rohmer in 1986, shortly before he completed Summer in the same format and with the same method of letting his leading actors improvise dialogue rather than strictly following scripts. Not part of Rohmer’s “Comedies and Proverbs” series, and deliberately light and nonambitious (very little of consequence occurs in any of the tales), this nevertheless shows the filmmaker at nearly peak form—sharply attentive to the sights and sounds of country and city alike and to the temperamental differences between his two heroines.