Chloe in the Afternoon (1972)

“Your real problems free me from my imaginary anxieties…”

Poster Chloe

Synopsis:
A happily married Parisian lawyer (Bernard Verley) sparks a friendship with his friend’s former lover, Chloe (Zouzou), and soon finds himself questioning his commitment to marital fidelity.

Genres:

Review:
Between 1962 and 1972, French director Eric Rohmer made a series of films — known as Six Moral Tales — about temptation and self-deception in human relationships. Chloe in the Afternoon is the final entry in the series, and serves as an effective, albeit discomfiting, conclusion to the collective narrative. While the two central protagonists in Chloe are authentically limned (chances are you’ve known people just like them), they’re also highly unsympathetic: Frederic (Verley) is self-absorbed and chauvinistic, ogling every pretty woman on the street, and unable to fully appreciate his beautiful, intelligent wife (Francoise Verley) back at home; and Chloe (who got on my nerves immediately — she’s every married woman’s nightmare) is devious and cunning, playing carefully off of Frederic’s weaknesses like a female Lothario. Yet Rohmer’s skill at showing how easily even a “happily married” man can be drawn down a dangerous path towards infidelity is impressive, making this and others in his “Moral Tales” series must-see viewing for film fanatics.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • A scathingly honest depiction of moral uncertainty in the face of temptation
    Chloe Infidelity
  • The touching final scene
    Chloe Ending

Must See?
Yes, simply as the final film in Rohmer’s Moral Tales sextet. Listed as a film with historical importance and a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.

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One Response to “Chloe in the Afternoon (1972)”

  1. First viewing. Not must-see for the average film fanatic but, if writer/director Rohmer’s work ‘speaks’ to you on a personal level, you will want to check this out.

    I’ve mentioned elsewhere at this site that a little of Rohmer goes a long way. But that’s in terms of his general appeal. He didn’t really make films with the masses in mind, so his target audience tends to be somewhat specific.

    I don’t think I’m indifferent to his work – i.e., I do, in particular, like ‘Claire’s Knee’ – but…with this film…even though it is beautifully shot by Nestor Almendros, and there are a few sequences which are particularly lively (i.e., the fantasy sequence re: how easy it “should” be to talk women into having sex) or philosophically interesting (i.e., the discussion of fidelity vs. polygamy), there remains a certain lethargy in the narrative (which some may just excuse as its ‘romantic’ tone).

    And I suppose, for me personally, a larger problem is Chloe herself. There’s something ‘evanescent and of the wind’ about her. Her noncommittal and vaguely manipulative approach reads as ‘removed and distant’…which, for the lead character may be part of the attraction…before realizing he prefers someone more emotionally stable (his wife). But maintaining interest in Chloe (as a character) for very long becomes difficult. There just doesn’t seem to be much there.

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