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CLAIRE’S KNEE (LE GENOU DE CLAIRE) (director/writer: Eric Rohmer; cinematographer: Nestor Almendros; editor: Cecile Decugis; cast: Jean-Claude Brialy (Jerome Montcharvin), Aurora Cornu (Aurora), Laurence De Monaghan (Claire), Béatrice Romand (Laura), Michèle Montel (Mme. Walter), Fabrice Luchini (Vincent), Gerard Falconetti (Gilles); Runtime: 106; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Pierre Cottrell; Fox Lorber; 1970-France-in French with English subtitles)
“Rohmer’s playful work is both witty and observant.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This is the fifth and best of French New Wave writer-director Eric Rohmer’s (“The Collector”/”My Night With Maud”/”A Good Marriage”) six ‘moral tales.’

The wealthy 35-year-old diplomat Jerome Montcharvin (Jean-Claude Brialy) returns from Sweden to holiday in the scenic lake resort of Annecy (in western France, near the Swiss border), where he spent his childhood in a villa. The smug ladies man tells his attractive single Romanian novelist friend Aurora (Aurora Cornu, a novelist and poet in real life), a guest in his divorced neighbor Ms. Walter’s (Michèle Montel) house, that he’s engaged to a Swedish UNICEF worker, now in Africa, and is through fooling around with women and will join his future wife after the summer in Stockholm. But he’s encouraged by Aurora to flirt with Ms. Walter’s teenage daughters, from her two previous marriages, the headstrong love struck 16-year-old Laura (Béatrice Romand) and the sensuous but superficial older sister Claire (Laurence De Monaghan), and keep her informed of events.

It all leads to the obsessed Lothario fondling the knee of the older step-sister Claire, after he makes her cry by telling her that her boyfriend Gilles (Gerard Falconetti) lied to her.

The chatty film’s charm lies in bringing out all the character’s complex natures and the gamesmanship employed in the romantic relationships by both old and and young, male and female, and the testing of the ability for Jerome to control his desires and do the right thing. Rohmer’s playful work is both witty and observant.

It’s one of those unique appealing films that’s better seen than described.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”