You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Rohmer in Paris’

Richard Misek analyzes Eric Rohmer's Paris-set cinema and his own compulsive fascination with it.

A study in concentric obsessions, Richard Misek’s “Rohmer in Paris,” composed almost exclusively of edited-together clips from Eric Rohmer’s films linked by voiceover, presents itself as both an analysis of the New Wave filmmaker’s oeuvre and a wry confession of Misek’s compulsive fascination with it. At a time when usage fees reduce most movie excerpts to frustratingly short snippets or shots from trailers, this cornucopia of optimally chosen primary sources, with its deft juxtapositions and leisurely extended scenes, is a guilty pleasure in itself. Definitely niche material, this singular 67-minute stroll through Rohmer’s Paris reps prime fest fare.

Misek describes cinephilia — whose invention, or at least whose codification, he ascribes to the Nouvelle Vague — as an obsession waiting to be triggered. What triggered Misek’s was his belated discovery that he himself had appeared in Rohmer’s “Rendezvous in Paris” (1995), when he crossed the camera’s path in Montmartre 14 years earlier.  He then resolved to see all Rohmer’s films, watching them over and over, a barrage of opening-credit titles mimicking his repeated viewings.

Misek sees Rohmer’s oeuvre as inseparable from Paris and, as the documentary’s title indicates, only films centered there are included, so that even when characters leave the city, it remains the lodestone of their identities. Misek characterizes Rohmer’s (or perhaps his own) approach as psychogeometric, borrowing Debord’s term referring to the effects of geographical environment on the individuals’ emotions and behavior.

Following various Rohmer characters as they amble, stride or wander through Paris, Misek traces a complex matrix of paths and intersections. He sometimes merely indicates these different paths in short clips from different films, and sometimes lets them play out, in all their twists and turns, in long excerpts from single works; the alternating of short and long yields satisfying rhythms and mini-catharses within each section of the docu. He maps the characters’ glances as they check out romantic possibilities along sidewalks, through cafe windows, and in trains, subways or buses. In chosen clips, characters comically or tragically ignore these glances, or else flirtatiously or earnestly return them.

Increasingly, these critical interpretations of Rohmer’s cinematic psyche, compelling as they are, become entangled with Misek’s own personal gestalt. On the occasion of Rohmer’s death in 2010, Misek laments that his idol will never see his film, that his cinematic “glance” will never be reciprocated. He speaks of watching, collecting and cataloging all the shots of Paris that Rohmer ever filmed, treating viewers to montages of hotels, characters entering doorways and leaving doorways, entering the Metro and leaving the Metro; the number of clips in each montage decreases while the tempo increases until the narration overtakes the imagery, stuck behind in earlier categories.

Indeed, in bleakly comic mode, the clips, now freed from critical discourse, assume a demented life of their own as Misek, in a fever dream of cinephilic exaggeration (bound to disturb his target audience of film buffs), rhapsodizes about cutting and pasting fragments of Rohmer’s films until he dies.

Popular on Variety

Film Review: 'Rohmer in Paris'

Reviewed at "First Look," Museum of the Moving Image, New York, Jan. 11, 2014. Running time: 67 MIN.


Produced, directed, written, edited by Richard Misek.

More Film

  • Nina Wu Midi Z Un Certain

    Chinese Indie and Indian Films Dominate Pingyao Festival Lineup

    Chinese indie and Indian films dominate the lineup of the Pingyao International Film Festival. The main selection for the festival’s third edition will include 28 world premieres, organizers revealed on Monday. The event will screen 52 films from 26 countries and territories, with all of them having their China debut. The opening film is set [...]

  • 'Sound of Metal' Review: Riz Ahmed

    Toronto Film Review: 'Sound of Metal'

    “Sound of Metal” is a film with a potent, searing hook. It stars Riz Ahmed, who is such a sensational actor (just watch him in “Jason Bourne” or “Nightcrawler” or “The Sisters Brothers”), as Ruben, a punk-metal drummer, heavy on the tattoos and peroxide, who has been thrashing away as part of a caterwauling noise [...]

  • David Goodman

    WGA West's David Goodman on Agency Strategy: 'We'll Start Meeting as Soon as Possible'

    David Goodman, who was resoundingly re-elected president of the Writers Guild of America West on Monday, said the guild plans to meet with several talent agencies soon in an effort to ease the impasse over packaging fees and affiliated production. “Many agencies had indicated that they wanted to wait to see the results of the [...]

  • Australian Outback

    Legend Media Seeks Trio of West Australia-China Co-Productions (EXCLUSIVE)

    Perth, Australia-based production company Legend Media is preparing a slate of three feature films to be produced with partners in China. The company styles itself as one that recognizes the opportunities for Asian engagement that have fallen to Australia, through geography, trade and culture. The company aims to make use of the bilateral film co-production [...]

  • David Goodman

    David Goodman Re-Elected President of Writers Guild of America West

    David Goodman has been convincingly re-elected to a two-year term as president of the Writers Guild of America West, beating Phyllis Nagy in a bitter contest that became a referendum on the guild’s ongoing battle with talent agents. Goodman received 4,395 votes to Nagy’s 1,282 in an election that yielded record turnout among the WGA [...]

  • Issa Rae Portrait

    Issa Rae Developing Re-Imagining of Crime Thriller 'Set It Off'

    “Insecure” star and co-creator Issa Rae is in early development on a re-imagining of New Line’s crime thriller “Set If Off,” which starred Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Vivica Fox and Kimberly Elise. Rae will produce with plans to star in the project. Syreeta Singleton and Nina Gloster have been hired to pen the script. [...]

  • Thomas Golubic GMS Conference

    Guild of Music Supervisors President: 'The Economics of the Job Don't Work Anymore'

    The Guild of Music Supervisors (GMS) hosted its 5th annual “State of Music in Media” conference on Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Los Angeles Film School. Featuring a wide array of panel discussions on all manner of issues related to music in film, television and advertising, the confab drew top composers, music supervisors, licensing and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content