Picks and Pans Review: Pauline at the Beach

updated 08/22/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/22/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

It might have become Beach-Blanket Bingo a la Plage, but French director Eric (Claire's Knee) Rohmer has instead fashioned this film into an involving, if slightly pedantic fable about the possibility—no, make that the certainty—of self-deception when it comes to romance. The story is best described as a love quadrangle. A teenager just budding into womanhood, Amanda Langlet, and her older cousin, Arielle Dombasle, arrive at a beach on the northwest coast of France. Dombasle, recently separated from her husband, is clearly on the make; she first puts the moves on an old friend she meets windsurfing, then drops him like a rock for a mysterious stranger. Meanwhile, the younger cousin has fallen for a boy her own age, and their own mating dance begins: lots of awkward groping, followed by a tumble in bed—with clothes on, thank-you. Soon the mysterious older lover gets caught cheating on Dombasle. Then he disappears just as quickly as he turned up. The moral seems clear: Young love, even in its innocence, can often be wiser. Dombasle, an aspiring director in her own right, is sensational. While she had a small part in Rohmer's Le Beau Mariage, in this film she gets to show off real talent as a comedienne. Because of her restraint, and Rohmer's, the film, while talky in spots, creates images that linger long after the lights have gone up. (In French with English subtitles) (R)

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