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The Green Ray

Directed by Eric Rohmer

France, 1986

Cornerhouse, 25 January 2015

The Green Ray

It is kind of like a Mike Leigh film but in French, if you can imagine such a thing.

Delphine’s (Marie Rivière) holiday arrangements fall through and she is faced with the prospect of spending the summer in Paris.  Unless, that is, she can make alternative arrangements, drawing on the kindness of friends, family and chance acquaintances.

What’s fascinating is the way everyone’s appearance – the masks of the people she meets – is peeled back, though not entirely.  Each person retains a mystery, albeit a banal one.

By no means is The Green Ray a ferocious, excoriating film: the tone is quite different.  Life as a circus or (better) a parade, behaviour as performance – that’s the nature of the engine beneath the bonnet.  The formulation would be something like: beyond appearance lies appearance.  Now would or could Mike Leigh go with that?

The Green Ray is showing again tomorrow as part of Matinee Classics, further details here.