Eric Rohmer Richard Schickel - Essay

Richard Schickel

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[The] details of the story, if one can so dignify the skeleton over which Rohmer has stretched his movie [My Night at Maud's], are of less consequence than the remarkable manner in which these ordinarily pretentious, faintly foolish, incredibly verbal people compel our attention—the shifting of a glance or of a position in a chair becomes an event as important as, say, a murder or a cavalry charge in an ordinary movie.

How soberly involved everyone is! How comic is the care with which they examine themselves and each other about their motives and the effect their small statements and actions are having! (p. 307)

Is there, in fact, an American producer who [like Rohmer] understands that eroticism can be intellectual, may involve neither coupling nor stripping? Is there one who would risk a satire on the modern demi-intellectual's insistence on analyzing everything to death that you do not begin to laugh at until after you have left the theater and the lovely absurdity of the whole enterprise begins ticking like a time bomb in your brain? Is there one who would risk a dollar on a man whose style can only be described as classic formalism? (pp. 307-08)

[My Night at Maud's is a] dry, delicate, elegant novella of a film…. (p. 308)

Richard Schickel, "'My Night at Maud's'" (originally published in Life, June 19, 1970), in his Second Sight: Notes on Some Movies, 1965–70 (copyright © 1972 by, Richard Schickel; reprinted by permission of Simon and Schuster, a Division of Gulf & Western Corporation), Simon & Schuster, 1972, pp. 307-08.