L’amour l’après-midi

Frédéric’s perfectly ordered life passes by pleasantly enough. He’s married to the woman he loves, is the father of an adorable little girl, and has set up a prosperous business with a colleague. He even has free time to enjoy the pleasures of Parisian life. One afternoon his best friend's ex-girlfriend, Chloé, turns up in his office after several years’ absence. She regularly returns and becomes a welcome distraction in Frédéric’s monotonous daily life. 


“In [La Collectionneuse] and his two subsequent films – Claire’s Knee (1970) and Love in the Afternoon (1972) – Rohmer confirmed both his expertise and his originality as a witty and unsentimental yet profoundly humane investigator of human desire and anxiety. As his admirably chatty characters – usually played by relatively unknown actors, and very often by people (painters, novelists, Marxists) practicing the same profession in life as on-screen – ponder and discuss love, beauty, happiness, work, ambition, ethics, and so forth, Rohmer shows his respect and sympathy by paying proper attention to what they say and do, even as he slowly but surely exposes the gulf between what’s said and what’s done, what’s felt and what’s thought, between rationality and impulse, appearance and reality.”

Geoff Andrew1


“The influence of Hitchcock’s tendency to treat his male heroes with scepticism is apparent in Rohmer’s treatment of Frédéric, who states in his voice-over near the beginning: ‘since I’ve been married I find all women beautiful. In their most mundane tasks, I grant them that mystery I used to deny them’. These are the words of a married man feeling trapped by marriage; they recall the fear of the ordinary that Jefferies (James Stewart) exhibits in Rear Window, causing him to perceive marriage as a provocation to murder and dismemberment. Reading Bougainville’s account of the South Pacific is for Frédéric what taking photographs from the roof of a jeep in Pakistan is for Jefferies, reduced as he is to daydreaming while peeping from his rear window. Both themes and motifs in L’Amour, l’après-midi reveal Hitchcock’s influence on Rohmer: the fantasy sequence, the spiral staircase shots, the focus on male voyeurism and the use of mirrors and clothes, the last two of which the finale links.”

Jacob Leigh2