(out of 5)
Marie Rivière needs a vacation from Paris in the summer but, since it’s Eric Rohmer and life is always charmingly bittersweet, all she finds is loneliness. Summering in Cherbourg with friends turns out to make her feel the solitude more, so she goes home, regroups and then heads for the Alps, where the sight of skiing families is so off-putting that she can barely stay a day before making her way to the Basque coast where she meets a delightful Swedish girl who is ready to party. Riviere can never shake her melancholy wherever she goes, either in company or alone, searching for a happiness as elusive as the scientific phenomenon of the title that occurs at the magic hour of sunset. It is perhaps a question of learning to accept life on its own terms or be happy in the moment, which despite all her speeches about her likes and habits and her confrontations with friends and possible lovers, is something she is still learning to do. Delicate, sweet and beautifully photographed, this is Rohmer at his most continuously pensive, a film that goes round and round in circles without being interminable or aggravating (imagine a Henry Jaglom movie that isn’t terrible). The dialogue is mostly improvised and the effect is noticeable: the sharp conversations about sex, passion and literature that you know from My Night At Maud’s or Claire’s Knee are now lengthy conversations about being a vegetarian, but the colourful personalities that populate the film and Rivieres’ own sweet presence make it lovely to behold.
Directed by Eric Rohmer
Scenario by Eric Rohmer, collaboration with Marie Rivière
Cinematography by Sophie Maintigneux
Produced by Margaret Menegoz
Music by Jean-Louis Valéro
Film Editing by Maria Luisa Garcia