Claire's Knee (Le genou de Claire) Reviews
As well, that famous moment of the older man looking up the ladder and seeing the beautiful young woman's bare knee and feeling that longing has to be THE finest depiction of that feeling in all of movies. Glorious, heartfelt, extremely intrinsically rewarding work.
There are few men here, except from the lead, Jerome. He is a nice and smart man, and to help his known ladyfriend writing a story, he fakes a passion about a much younger girl.
It's never unpleasant, but still unsettling all the way. It's all in the viewers head in a way.
Then he meets Claire. A very young lady, still very beautiful. He kind of wants her, but he just want to know that he really can have her - even if it's wrong for many reasons. He want's to prove something. First and foremost he wants to touch her knee.
The dialogues are clever and poetic. It's setting is in nice surroundings, summer in France. Sometimes by a small boat, other times we're in a garden - listening to their chatting. A slow but pleasent film. Great characters and super acting, especially by the lead.
Provocative but very subtly so. It's about love, sex and moral - but all key elements stays hidden. It's radio erotica. My first Rohmer film. It's a possibility there may be more.
7.5 out of 10 motorboats making (French) new waves.
-->Possible moral topic(s) treated: Emotional manipulation for the fulfillment of perverted fantasies. BAM!!
Rohmer accomplishes the ridiculously difficult task of putting into coherent (sometimes sophisticated, but never sophistic) words the complex mentality that drives men's impulses into scandalously immoral actions. Maybe our fathers saw scandal in the age difference issue; today, it doesn't bother us that much anymore because society is, in some respects, more degraded than before. Hence, Le Genou de Claire arises new questionings today.
I use the word "scandalous" because Jerome's ambitions are truly perverted. The direction is impeccable and accurate because only all of us men are capable of understanding the powerlessness caused by a gorgeous female figure in an instant, no emotional attachments involved. In that way, everything suddenly becomes elements that conspire against you: the landscape in which you are in, the climate, the people around you when all you want is to find the golden opportunity of being alone with the source of your obsession, the lovers like if they were your personal competitors... everything becomes a conspiracy against you. A vacation can turn into a nightmare, but us men can find the fun in such disturbing experience.
A substantial amount of scenes in Le Genou de Claire needed to resemble an "interview style", so that both genders have the opportunity to make efforts to express the reasons behind their actions. Truth is, we do not know the reasons behind our actions. Jerome's marriage does not matter at the end of the day. What should really capture the audience is how, while trying to explain our actions, we build complex sentences as coherent as possible to justify what we do while pretending to know that we understand the complex psychological processes involved, and that is what Jerome stands for as a character. That is why Laura's presence occupies the first half of the film and her participation in it turns out to be funny and ironic, but paradoxical: she understands better why she does what she does (the "lack of parental figure" observation was spot-on) than Jerome, even better than Aurora, whose experimental reasons remain unexplained and that makes it all the more mysterious... just like human nature is.
Watching this film is like watching a mirror for men. The situation, even though improbable, is very realistic towards our unfortunately primitive male nature, and most of us have been in that situation with a close relative. Age does not matter, I reiterate. But it is ashaming to accept that our so-called "freedom" (in the context of "I am a free man/woman", like stated in the film) does not represent more than slavery to our passions. Damn it, I've been there, it is extremely difficult to handle, but why is it that we want to be the #1 guy in the lives of every single woman we meet? Rohmer, audaciously, circles around this particular question with challenging delicacy and, let's say, "diplomacy", making you realize that moral is relative, and the roots of your decisions and impulses are much more disturbing than what you realize.