Summer Tale: Panel in Rohmer’s Great Seasons Cycle

Made in 1996, Eric Rohmer’s A Summer Tale (Conte d’été) is the third entry in the Tales of the Four Seasons cycle.

The film will open at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas in New York on June 20, and in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Royal on July 18. A national release will follow.

A Summer Tale originally premiered in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1996 Cannes Film Fest, where I saw the film.  I have failed to realize that the movie had never gotten theatrical release in the U.S.  So this is the film’s premiere!

Following A TALE OF SPRINGTIME (1990) and A TALE OF WINTER (1992), A SUMMER TALE resumed the cycle after THE TREE, THE MAYOR AND THE MEDIATHEQUE (1993) and RENDEZVOUS IN PARIS (1995). AUTUMN TALE (1998) rounded out the series.

The tale’s hero is Gaspard (Melvil Poupaud), a recent university graduate, who arrives at the seaside in Bretagne for three weeks’ vacation before starting a new job.  He’s hoping his sort-of girlfriend, the fickle Léna (Aurélia Nolin), will join him there; but as the days pass, he welcomes the interest of Margot (Amanda Langlet, the titular character from Rohmer’s Pauline at the Beach), a student of ethnology working as a waitress for the summer.

Things start to get complicated when the spoken-for Margot encourages Gaspard to have a summer romance with her friend, Solène (Gwenaëlle Simon), and he complies. When Léna turns up, and scheduling complications abound, Gaspard will have to make a choice…

Rohmer’s light touch allows his characters to discourse on love and friendship, even as their body language complicates and even contradicts their words. Diane Baratier’s cinematography perfectly captures the languor of youth and the feeling of a French beach vacation–the sea, the sunlight and the picturesque surroundings convey the openness of a world of possibilities faced by these young people.



Released by Big World Pictures

The film was restored in 2013.

Running time:  109 Minutes.

In French with English subtitles