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Claire's Knee (1970)


cinemaspeak59
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Claire’s Knee (1970), is the fifth film in Eric Rohmer’s Six Moral Tales.  This one explores the force of temptation, desire, and the human frailty of self-deception.  Jean-Claude Brialy plays Jerome, a diplomat vacationing at a scenic lakeside resort, so picturesque, as one character observes, that it’s boring.  There Jerome spots Aurora (Aurora Cornu), a former lover and romance novelist, looking for inspiration for her next book. Aurora observes with wry detachment as Laura (Beatrice Romand), a neighbor’s teenage daughter, develops a crush on Jerome.  Jerome professes complete happiness with his current partner, Lucinda, who remains off-screen.  Other women bore him. Yet he’s unsure how to respond toward Laura, who is savvy, and mature beyond her years.

The appearance of Claire (Laurence de Monaghan), Laura’s half-sister, complicates things further.  For Jerome, there’s now a new object of desire: Claire’s knee, which he must touch, literally touch, and nothing more.  Rohmer was a Catholic intellectual. He subscribes to the Thomistic philosophy that we’re endowed with free will.  Desire may compel Jerome to go further, but reason ultimately prevails.  I found Jerome rather arrogant, but not unlikable.  It’s amusing watching him discuss the conquest of his temptation, in minute detail, in that exhilarating language that is the cinema of Rohmer.  Aurora listens patiently, but ultimately, to Jerome’s disappointment, finds his saga banal and bourgeois, a gentle but witty rebuke to the folly of male vanity.

His vacation over, Jerome returns home with a clean and satisfied conscience. Everyone is happy. Aurora has a lover Jerome met but unaware the two were involved. And the young people, Laura and Claire, whom Jerome tried to influence with the most noble of intentions, and at times not so noble, understood him far better than he did them. 

 

 

 

  

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