Love in the Afternoon
Though happily married to his adoring wife Hélène, with whom he is expecting a second child, the thoroughly bourgeois business executive Frédéric cannot banish from his mind the multitude of attractive Parisian women who pass him by every day. His flirtations and fantasies remain harmless until Chloé (played by the mesmerizing Zouzou), an audacious, unencumbered old flame, shows up at his office, embodying the first genuine threat to Frédéric’s marriage. The luminous final chapter to Rohmer’s “Moral Tales” is a tender, sobering, and wholly adult affair that leads to perhaps the most overwhelmingly emotional moment in the entire series.
The sixth disc in Criterion’s box set for Eric Rohmer’s Six Moral Tales presents Love in the Afternoon in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The standard-definition presentation comes from a high-definition restoration, sourced from a 35mm interpositive. The image has also been window-boxed.
Though the film probably offers the best presentation in the set it has a handful of issues. The colours take on a real yellow tint, to the point where a lot scenes present jaundiced skin tones. All other colours take on a yellow tint as well, impacting reds, blues, purples, and more.
The print is in excellent condition, though, the restoration having gone through everything with a fine-tooth comb. The only problematic moment that sticks out is one sequence that has a fairly dupey look to it. The digital presentation itself holds up well, keeping artifacts and the like to a minimum and helping to deliver a good amount of detail. It’s this latter aspect that makes it easy to look over any shortcomings in the image.
The film’s French audio is delivered in Dolby Digital 1.0 mono. Fidelity is fine but nothing really stands out: dialogue is clear, as are sound effects, and damage is never an issue.
Each disc receives a handful of supplements with the respective film and the features on this disc start out with Rohmer’s 18-minute short film Véronique and Her Dunce, which is an amusing little short about a tutor who has (much to her misfortune) been hired by a disinterested mother to help bring up the grades of her son in both math and French, to little avail. It’s very different from every other Rohmer film in this set, and fairly funny in its execution, particularly when the two characters clash (like when she’s trying to explain how to divide fractions). This is followed by a less than thrilling appreciation featuring Neil LaBute, where the director talks about what he admires most about the filmmaker. It’s fine but not terribly enlightening. Since the set was lacking a real analytical push (at least in the on-disc features) I was probably putting more hope in this one, and alas…
The disc closes with the film’s theatrical trailer. Unfortunately one of the more underwhelming collection of features in the set, but the short is at least fun.
Despite a couple of shortcomings, particularly in the colours, this DVD provides the best looking presentation in the set and includes a fun short film from Rohmer.