A few years ago I took it upon myself to slowly watch all of Roger Ebert’s Great Movie list. While I was in high school every Sunday I would take the T.V. guide from the newspaper and circle films that Ebert recommended or graded 4 stars and I would check them out on the weekends. I saw many films that helped to develop my own cinematic taste while also turning me into a cinephile.
Eric Rohmer is a director that I have constantly heard about over the years but never had an opportunity to watch his films. He is grouped among the many great directors that began the French New Wave movement of the late 1950s. His large body of work has garnered many awards as well as critical acclaim. “Chloe in the Afternoon” is the first film that I checked out from Rohmer’s filmography and I am glad that I did so.
“Chloe in the Afternoon” is about Frederic, a young Parisian lawyer, who is married to Helene. They have one child together and an unborn child on the way. Frederic and Helene’s relationship is one of mutual regard and respect. There isn’t any passion or real communication between the two which Frederic mentions early in the film. He feels as if he is unable to truly communicate with Helene about his feelings or any meaningful conversation.
Frederic begins to contemplate about other women he sees daily during his travels to work including the two secretaries at his office. He begins to daydream about having a powerful medallion that allows him to woo any woman he wants.
One day Frederic returns to his office to find Chloe, a friend from the past waiting for him. Frederic is both surprised and intrigued by free-spirited Chloe. She has returned to Paris after spending time in New York and is looking for a new job. This begins a series of encounters between Chloe and Frederic who begin to see each other in the afternoon. They develop a friendship that is strictly platonic until things start to come to a head when Frederic and Chloe begin to develop feelings for each other.
This film really interested me from the beginning especially the two main characters. Frederic seemed really familiar to me with his yearnings for something new and passionate in his life. He is a man who is quite successful in every aspect of his life but is dissatisfied with the lack of intimacy he feels in his marriage. He craves attention and stimulating conversation which he gets from Chloe but he doesn’t know if he should act upon the relationship. He has never lied to his wife and feels terrible about not telling her that he sees Chloe in the afternoon.
Chloe is a woman who lives at the spur of the moment. She bounces from job to job as well as place to place. She also seems to be quite irresistible and unattainable to many men. Early in the film there is a revelation that Chloe broke the heart of Frederic’s friend in the past. She also leaves a jealous man who is in love with her quite quickly after using him for a place to stay. Chloe knows exactly what she wants when it comes to relationships and even states this to Frederic. She won’t compromise for any man’s ideals of what she should be. When she tells Frederic that she is in love with him she says it simply without wanting anything in return from Frederic just for him to know how she feels.
“Chloe in the Afternoon” was a refreshing and interesting film to watch with its contemplation on infidelity and what the repercussions could be for all parties involved. It helps to show a difference between actually wanting and acting upon temptation. The moral qualms that arise is inevitable when undertaking a huge step that could destroy your life and Rohmer does an excellent job of showcasing that.