Eric Rohmer Stanley Kauffmann - Essay

Stanley Kauffmann

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Again [in La Collectionneuse] Rohmer gives us a protagonist who becomes interested in a younger woman and ends up with an older woman to whom he was linked originally. Again passion is more examined and discussed than created. Rohmer is more interested in the effect of desire on thought and action than in the creation of heat….

He provides the extra dividend of all extraordinary film makers: the sense that an artist has made the medium his own, shaped it to his psyche and inquiries. In this case the tone is reflective and quiet—but only superficially quiet. (p. 55)

In Claire's Knee, a mature man's fancies about a nearly juvenile girl were distilled almost to disembodiment by his fantasy about her knee. Here the prologue tells us that Haydée's body is the figurative theater of this story and that intercourse, not fantasy, is the dynamics. I don't understand those who think that this difference between the two films is one of grossness. (p. 56)

Most of the film's tension comes from the contrast between the calm camaraderie of the trio in the villa, who are merely amiable much of the time, and the rationalized desires that are boiling in Adrien, particularly after the girl takes Daniel as a lover. (pp. 56-7)

All the elements are distilled by Rohmer into what must again be called a classic style: a view of art in which form is not only the preserver of experience but the ultimate insight into it. (p. 57)

Stanley Kauffmann, "'La Collectionneuse'" (originally published in The New Republic, Vol. 164, No. 22, May 29, 1971), in his Living Images: Film Comment and Criticism (copyright © 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974 by Stanley Kauffmann; reprinted by permission of Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc.), Harper, 1975, pp. 55-7.