Suzanne's Career (Eric Rohmer / France, 1963):
(La Carrière de Suzanne)

The acute construction (a love triangle unable to solidify) is tied to the emotional storm -- shyness, scorn, irritation, unacknowledged affection -- behind placid intellectual façades. The titular character (Catherine Sée) is contemplated by pharmaceutical college student Philippe Beuzen, who in his narration declares her unworthy of the much-admired "seducer" gifts of his friend (Christian Charrière). Beuzen says he's interested in somebody else (Diane Wilkinson), yet his thoughts keep running back to the gamine: "I kept philosophically to my corner, but I could sense Suzanne was on the verge of tears," he dryly muses at a party, Mozart's Don Giovanni is summoned during an impromptu séance afterwards. Once dumped by Charrière ("Her body is not bad, but she's got my mother's name"), Sée initiates a fluctuating flirtation with Beuzen, whose analytical mind doesn't exactly encompass romantic potential. Further refinements of form from Le Boulangère de Monceau -- Eric Rohmer's effects turn increasingly interiorized, so that the realization that the girl can foot the bill at the end of the date "opens up whole worlds" for the characters. A graceful, acerbic, Baudelairean sketch, made to be expanded but by itself complete: A cosmos of sidewalk cafés nevertheless open to manipulation and casual cruelty, created with lines and curves (Sée reveals a few inches of thigh as she tends to a torn skirt, although Beuzen has an exam the next morning and goes to bed early). Men marinate smugness with delusion, yet at the end there's the Rohmer heroine, "no classical beauty" triumphant in a bathing suit, luxuriating vengefully in the protagonist's mind. In black and white.

--- Fernando F. Croce

Back to Reviews
Back Home