Sunday, 9 September 2007

Les Amours d'Astrée et de Céladon

English Title: Romance of Astrea and Celadon
Director: Éric Rohmer
Country: France/Italy/Spain

Based on L'Astrée, a classic French novel from the 17th century by Honoré d'Urfé, this film tells the story of, as the title suggests, the romance of two young shepherds, Céladon (Andy Gillet) and Astrée (Stéphanie Crayencour). At the beginning of the movie, we soon find out that the two are deeply in love. However, Astrée sees Céladon kiss another girl (a deception intended to please Céladon's parents), and complications arise as Astrée forbids Céladon to ever set eyes on her again, to which Céladon reacts by throwing himself into a river to try to drown himself. Céladon survives, naturally, but this sets the scene for the rest of the story.

The movie plays out as a classic comedy of errors, with plenty of dramatic irony to please the audience. The acting was good, although I can't really say it's great, as I tend not to be able to judge foreign-language acting quite as well as acting in English. What really made me love this movie was the production. Éric Rohmer, most famous for his role as one of the pioneers of French New Wave cinema, obviously had a clear vision of what he wanted to do when he adapted the novel, and it shows. The film is preceded by a message regarding the filming of the movie, which did not take place at the original setting, but at a similar region that was less touched by human expansion. From this, you could tell that Rohmer really wanted to do the story justice. As a result, the movie felt as if it had stuck close to the original material (although I can only assume this, as I have not actually read the novel, nor can I read French). I found this approach really refreshing.

I highly recommend this movie to anybody who doesn't mind a bit of old-fashioned romance with a whole lot of comedy, and I especially recommend it to those who are sick of the overproduced romantic comedies that come out of Hollywood. Perhaps the only disappointment that I had with the movie was the fact that Éric Rohmer wasn't on hand to do a Q&A session with the audience.

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