A Tale of Winter (Conte d’hiver)

A Tale of Winter

I love you. Not enough to live with you, only to ruin your life.

I can see why this one is somewhat hard to find; not because it is bad, but because it isn’t good enough, or really ‘enough’ of anything. Eric Rohmer’s A Tale of Winter is another inexplicable entry on the list, in that it doesn’t really do enough in any one regard, let alone multiple ones, to warrant inclusion on a list of must-see films. It was decent enough, but I don’t even think I’d go so far as to merely call it good; that’s how underwhelmed I was, and I wasn’t even expecting something spectacular. The film is pretty much completely grounded in reality, so much so that the film is, as a result, uninteresting. I know there are plenty of people who can gladly watch a film that looks, feels, and tastes like it was cut right out of real life, in every conceivable way, but I guess I’m just not one of those people. To the film’s credit, though, it is fairly well made.

This is another one that, rather than tell an actual plot with forward motion and a three-act structure, opts instead to slice out a chunk of the characters’ everyday lives and presents it to us as-is, with no embellishment or frills attached. The plot, if one can call it that, follows a winter in the life of a woman named Felicie, as she juggles relationships with two men, her daughter Elise, and a long-lost former lover whom she has never fully let go hope of a reunion, as improbable as it may be. What annoyed me about the film initially is how long it took me to complete that picture of the story. A full half hour into the film, I still had no idea what story the film was telling, and what story there was was very oddly told. The prelude with Felicie and her lover Charles lasts all of five minutes, then the film unceremoniously jumps ahead five years, and picks up where the story never left off to begin with, which made for an increasingly disorienting watch. Eventually, though, this cleared up, but it took a little too long for me to even get what the film was about, and thus even longer for me to care what it was about or what happens to the characters. What really irked me, though, was the main character’s decision to up and change her whole life at the drop of a hat, and then, halfway through the film, change her mind and do it all over again. It wasn’t indecisiveness, it was just too brash; and what annoyed me even more was that she always thought she was right, no matter what she did or decided to do, and with no concern towards other people, especially her young daughter, whom she was more than okay with uprooting and dragging her around to fit her own life needs. It wasn’t infuriating, but it was enough to get under my skin.

This is another one that the ending seems to invalidate much of what has previously transpired, though this isn’t nearly as completely disregarding as Hanyeo. Without spoiling anything (and I know this is going to come across rather mean), I felt the ending was too much of a “and they all lived happily ever after”, and it wasn’t one that I thought the main character deserved. There was no real arc here for any of the characters involved, especially Felicie; she is just handed a happily-ever-after at the end of the film, with no build-up or lead-in to it; thus, why I felt the ending at least partially invalidates the rest of the film. In all, I can’t fault this one for being a bad film, because it isn’t, but neither is it a particularly good one, and I can say for sure the story isn’t a well told story. It’s not even really a story that’s worth watching, which fails one of my primary rules of films; that they at least be worth the effort it takes to get through it, either through entertainment or satisfaction, or by providing something we’ve never experienced before. This does neither; it just falls too deep in the trap of being far too realistic for the story to really do anything to even interest us, let alone surprise or gratify us. I suspect I am not alone in my assessment, and it is that that makes me give the film the rating I did, coupled with the listlessness of the film’s mood and flat entertainment value. I can’t even bring myself to say that you should even bother to watch this one; there’s just nothing here. I’ve checked another one off my list, and that’s pretty much that.

Arbitrary Rating: 6/10


2 thoughts on “A Tale of Winter (Conte d’hiver)

  1. Have you seen Lola yet? If you have, you’ll see the natural parallel between that and this. If not, well, you will.

    I agree completely, by the way–there’s just not enough “there” there for me to care that much. This was just another check mark on the list and yet another film I never have to watch again.

    • I have Lola coming up in the next week or so, so I’ll keep that in mind (though that means I’ll probably not be looking forward to it). Seems weird that there would be a parallel between the two, considering they’re done by different directors, but I guess you never know what will be considered influential.

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