Like Ozu's consideration of the seasons and Kieslowski's meditation on the Commandments, Rohmer's famous anti-romance cycle comes into its own when viewed as a single work, something possible now more than ever with this all-inclusive Criterion box. My Night at Maud's (1969) remains, to all eyes, the masterpiece in the middleRohmerians do not need to be told, but for others, begin with this snowy eclogue pitting righteous piety against bohemian freedom, in a Clermont-Ferrand bedroom warmed by a single vivacious woman (who is not but is but isn't really, in Rohmer's world, the hero's best shot at happiness). The project's tapestryknitting itself together purely via pattern and themestretches from the utterly lovely short The Bakery Girl of Monceau (1963) to Love in the Afternoon (1972) (in the U.S., Chloe in the Afternoon). Don't be misled: These magical, yackety films are not parables of moral struggle, but episodes of egotistic and romantic folly, missiles of fond social critique aimed at the French man, in all his self-analytical jerkiness. The set is muscular with the right kinds of extras: five additional Rohmer shorts, ranging from 1951 to 1999; scores of interviews, old and new, and Rohmer-directed TV episodes; a separate booklet of essays; and a volume of Rohmer's original short stories, reissued by Penguin.
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