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Le genou de Claire
Le genou de Claire (1970)
  • Director:
    Éric Rohmer
  • Category:
  • Writer:
    Éric Rohmer
  • Cast:
    Jean-Claude Brialy,Aurora Cornu,Béatrice Romand
  • Time:
    1h 45min
  • Year:
In this talky lighthearted slow-paced melodrama, Jerome, a cultural attache, spends his last summer holidays as a bachelor at Lake Annecy where he meets Aurora, an Italian writer and old friend. She talks him into a flirt with his landlady's teenage daughter, Laura, which he indulges in until he meets and falls for Laura's blonde half-sister Claire and develops a desire to caress her knee. Jerome eventually dares to try his luck with Claire, only to realize that, unlike with Laura, his affections this time are mostly one-sided.
Complete credited cast:
Jean-Claude Brialy Jean-Claude Brialy - Jerome
Aurora Cornu Aurora Cornu - Aurora, the novelist
Béatrice Romand Béatrice Romand - Laura
Laurence de Monaghan Laurence de Monaghan - Claire
Michèle Montel Michèle Montel - Madame Walter
Gérard Falconetti Gérard Falconetti - Gilles
Fabrice Luchini Fabrice Luchini - Vincent
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Sandra Franchina Sandra Franchina

Le genou de Claire (1970)

Film debut of Laurence de Monaghan.

Without counting a picture frame seen from the distance, the title character's first appearance takes place after 47 minutes into the film.

This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #347.

The title of this charming film by Eric Rohmer is perhaps too provocative. It really gives the wrong impression, yet Claire's knee is exactly the central point of the film, although in a way that will surprise you. This is the story about a thirty-something year old diplomat, Jerome Montcharvin, who encounters two pretty girls, sixteen and eighteen years old, while on vacation at Lake Annecy in France (near Lake Geneva, Switzerland) a month before his wedding and finds that they affect him more strongly than he might have expected. It is especially Claire who brings out a side of his personality that is seldom exposed, much to the merry interest of his friend, Aurora, a writer, who has guided his interest in the girls, ostensibly as material for a story she is writing. Claire's Knee, it need be said immediately has not so much to do with the pretty girl's knee as it has to do with the protagonist's self-perception. Jean-Claude Brialy, who plays Jerome Montcharvin, brings a veracious mix of smug confidence and little guy vulnerability to the part spiked with a clear case of self-delusion that illuminates his character very well. And the girls are indeed very pretty, with Laura, played with coquettish innocence by Béatrice Romand, also being clever and slyly sophisticated, vulnerable and honest. In contrast Claire, played by Laurence de Monaghan, whose fawn-like beauty is perfect for the part, seems superficial and ordinary and a bit distant. I found myself more attracted to Aurora, played with a gentle and understated irony by Aurora Cornu. She provides the objectifying point of view for us to realize that while Jerome imagines he is a man in touch with his feelings and has an objective understanding of himself, he is really a man who fools himself about his motivation, a man who can be ugly when frustrated, as he is by Claire's lack of interest in him. The dialogue, written by director Eric Rohmer, which some have found excessive is anything but. It is instead clever and witty and at times profound as Rohmer relentlessly explores the nature of love, sex, sensuality and self-delusion. The cinematography of the lake and the French alps in the summer time is luscious, and the privileged, softly indulgent life style of the characters living around the lake provoked a twinge of jealousy in my soul. This is a beautiful film, worldly wise, warm, sensual and subtle as a dinner by candlelight.
In "les Liaisons Dangereuses", Isabelle de Merteuil defies Sebastien de Valmont to deflower Cécile de Volanges, a young girl, then to seduce and to reject Marie de Tourvel, a married woman. If he succeeds in accomplishing it, the bounty will be Isabelle herself.

Nothing as harsh in "Le genou de Claire", but there is the similar thematic about a gamble. Jérome (Jean Claude Brialy) meets Aurora (Aurora Cornu), an old friend (lover?). Aurora, a writer, is in search of a new story for a possible novel. She offers Jérome a gamble in the form of a love game ("marivaudage" as we say in French) involving Laura (Beatrice Romand), his neighbors daughter, who is obviously attracted by him, and, later, the Laura's sister Claire (Laurence de Monaghan) whose knee fascinates Jérome.

Unlike "The Dangerous Liaisons", not a single ounce of violence or dramatic events, everything will be just metaphorical: a half-stolen kiss and a stroked knee (and no excessive promised reward from Aurora). "Le Genou de Claire" is a filmed essay about friendship, love, sensuality, desire, fantasies and their incoherences.

As usual with Eric Rohmer, thoughts and emotions have to be said and not just shown, therefore everything is explicitly said by the characters. This is the reason why the Rohmer's movies seem unrealistic and talkative to the unprepared audiences. Some say that Rohmer is a writer who uses a camera instead a pen, but that primacy of the dialog doesn't prevent Rohmer to use the actor's play, the camera, the set's and costumes colors in a very accurate way. In fact, he is a real film director with a very personal style of cinematic language.

The cast: A Jean-Claude Brialy bearded like a pirate plays a charming young diplomat and he delivers his lines with natural ease and a sensual chemistry between him and the beautiful Aurora Cornu (a Romanian poet, novelist, and actress). Unfortunately the Romanian actress doesn't seem at ease with those long lines in French, and, in my humble opinion, she overplays quite a bit.

Beatrice Romand, 18 years old at that time, in her first true part in a movie, plays the 16 yo Laura. She steals the show, the light and the camera, and in view of some mind-blowing shots, for example in the Jérome's room, she seems to have been an obvious delicacy to light up for the great master Néstor Almendros, in charge of the cinematography. When the movie was released in 1970, the French medias became suddenly obsessed for a while by this very young actress, her exotic beauty and riveting charm. The clever and fizzy Béatrice appeared everywhere in the magazines and on the 2 (not more than two in 1970!) channels of the French TV! Then the fame faded away. The industry of entertainment prefers the blonds... The Beatrice's fans (I am a Beatrice's fan!) love Rohmer's "Le Beau Marriage", "Conte d'Automne" and Claude Faraldo's "Themroc", a situationist weird movie.

Laurence de Monaghan, in contrast with the dark haired and milky skinned Beatrice Romand, plays Claire, a tanned blond of cold beauty, in fact a perfect arrogant and stuck-up chick with perfect body, legs and knee, the famous knee, object of Jérome's desire.

For the fans of Fabrice Luccini, his short part as the young Vincent pontificating about girls is a "collector", not to be missed! By the way, still for his fans, not to be missed too there is his hilarious (and sulfurous) part in Walerian Borowczyk's "Contes Immoraux" (Immoral Tales) 2 years later. Keep in mind that "Le Genou de Claire" forms a part of Rohmer's "Contes Moraux" (Moral Tales)...

Time has passed, "Le Genou de Claire" remains amongst the Rohmer's most sensuous movie, and Claire's knee keeps on fascinating.
Eric Rohmer's style never ceases to amaze me: his characters and scenarios always seem realistic but not oppressively so. Furthermore, while on paper his films might sound stagey thanks to his direction they manage to be uniquely cinematic. This film is no exception; it has a tremendous amount of dialogue, perhaps even moreso than other Rohmer films I've seen but it never feels too talky.

The plot of this film revolves around Jerome, a vacationing man who is about to get married. He runs into an old friend who happens to be vacationing with his neighbor's family and he begins spending a lot of time with this family. Before long the neighbor's 16 year old daughter Laura develops a crush on Jerome much to his delight. Rohmer's treatment of his teenage characters is one place where the film really shines: he doesn't portray them as naive innocents or stereotypes but rather as intelligent, unique individuals. After quite a bit of flirtation, Laura realizes that nothing will come of their relationship and moves on. In spite of his lack of attachment to Laura, Jerome has difficulty dealing with her new indifference. He quickly turns his attention to her sister Claire, a girl who has very little interest in him. He seems to see this as a challenge; her perfect figure (particularly her shapely knee) fascinates him to no end.

Ultimately Jerome and the other adults seem more childish than the teenagers in the film: while the younger folk know what they want and react maturely if they don't get it the older folk are indecisive and petty; they want what they can't have. Jerome in particular constantly claims that he doesn't care about looks but he pursues the more attractive Claire even though she doesn't seem nearly as intelligent as her sister. The point here might be that maturity and age don't necessarily go hand in hand or that even the most sophisticated seeming adult can behave as a childish fool.

As usual, the film had some interesting, realistic characters. The film is also one of the best looking I've ever seen, probably in no small part thanks to the efforts of legendary cinematographer Nestor Almendros. Still, I couldn't help but feel that the themes of this film were not expressed as well as those in the very best Rohmer films I've seen. Still quite good and Rohmer is steadily becoming one of my favorite directors.
sunrise bird
sunrise bird
I decided to see this movie after I saw that in 1971 it made #1 and #3 respectively on Siskel and Ebert's top 10 movie list for that year.

Many of the other reviews do an excellent job at plot summary and imaginative interpretation, so I won't be redundant, but there are several interesting scenes that have double meanings that I hadn't seen explicitly pointed out… and there are also some scenes that in 2007 don't come across so successfully as they apparently did back in 1971.

The story takes place near Annecy in the French Alps, and revolves around the visit of Jerome a 35+ year old diplomat, to a vacation cottage where his friend Aurora an aging novelist, is staying with two young girls, the precocious Laura 16 and the beautiful and aloof Claire 18.

The scenery of the river (the River Thiou?) and surrounding mountains is simply staggering, and its hard not to be jealous of the easy life these characters have.

Note the physical intimacy Jerome has with Aurora, how they fondle and grope each other during conversation, then later between Jerome and the child Laura, as they cuddle together in the mountains. Contrast this with the unapproachable Claire, who Jerome desperately wants to get close to, but whose desires are unrequited.

This film is largely about the self-delusion of the diplomat Jerome, and the manipulative craftwork of the novelist Aurora, who plainly refers to the people she lives with, along with Jerome, as "Guinea pigs" to find inspiration from for her stories. In a moment of unintentional comedy, Aurora describes her life without any significant others, offering "I've been alone for more than a year. It's very pleasant."

In a telling exchange between Jerome and Aurora, Jerome confesses he is frustrated he has not made it into her stories. She then offers suggestively that even if he slept with someone the night before his wedding she still wouldn't write about him. "And if I didn't sleep with her?" he says. "The story would be better. Things mustn't happen." (sic) Well call me naïve but I like see a plot filled out with things happening. But here at least we see Rohmer's modus operandi.

Aurora suggests Jerome lead on the young Laura, so she has something to write about. Jerome eventually takes Laura for a hike on La Tournette. Alone they rest in each others arms, Laura asks Jerome if he's happier with her or his wife. After frolicking for a bit, the bearded Jerome suddenly starts making out with the 16 year old. She pulls away, saying she wants to be in love for real…

Soon thereafter we meet Claire for the first time, tanned and tone in a skimpy bikini, and her brash and handsome boyfriend Gilles. It's clear that Claire and Gilles are perfect for each other, both young, capricious, impudent, and beautiful. At one point Gilles drives a motorboat through a group of swimming campers, then tells the complaining camp counselor something to the effect of, "Take a hike, Grandpa".

Jerome admits to Aurora that Claire arouses old desires in him. He becomes jealous of Gilles and believes he doesn't deserve her. In one scene they all go out dancing. Note how the camera lingers on Jerome after he is rejected by Claire after asking her to dance. His emotions wander and ramble from frustration, to self pity, to false recovered confidence, to introspection. The precocious Laura notices it all.

The day comes when Jerome sees Gilles being intimate with another girl. When Claire and Jerome are alone taking shelter from a storm, he uses this as a weapon to break down Claire's guard. Its an age-old drama, the jealous guy tries to win a girl's favor by ratting out her cheating boyfriend. It never works as intended. In this case Claire cries, and Jerome uses the opportunity to caress her knee. It's as close as he will ever get. The camera cuts to the banks of the river, which are now dark, choppy, and muddy. Like the thoughts and emotions of the characters. It's as if nature is disapproving.

Later Jerome accurately describes the whole incident to the curious Aurora. He mentions how fortuitous the incident was, that he no longer desires Claire because its as if he's already had her (self-deception), and that she will now break up with the undeserving Gilles (not a chance, as her jealousy over Gilles only makes her more attracted to him).

When Jerome finally departs from the cottage, Claire pretends to be sleeping and does not see him off. When Gilles arrives shortly afterward, she bounds out of the house in full tennis apparel, implying she was in hiding from Jerome and presumably had no desire to see him again.

As Claire and Gilles sit arm in arm on a park bench while Aurora spies on them, it seems clearer than ever that Jerome was indeed the guinea pig, and has finally made it into Aurora's stories.
First, some ground rules. You can compare, for example, Japanese films to Chinese films to Korean films to Thai films and, by and large, you will find more in common than different. Ditto for US, Canadian, British, etc. But when when you get to French films, my friend, the rulebook goes out the window. These are the people who, lest we forget, brought us some of the greatest philosophers in history, so, drinking espresso and asking how many angels can dance on the head of pin is pretty much genetic. (This observation also explains the dilemma of Quebec separatism, ie, there is more interest in debating it, than in actually doing it, but I digress.) Which brings us to the (arguably) most successful work of moralist Eric Rohmer, the drenched-in-voice-over Claire's Knee. (Which title BTW has a lot more class in French, "Le genou de Claire", it flows trippingly off the tongue). The story? What story? A no-longer-in-his-20s-but-still-in-the-game diplomat is off visiting a friend in what could easily pass for Narnia (the French are always visiting or celebrating or eating, in these sort of films) where, via the above-mentioned voice-over, he is debating the essential nature of men and women. Just when you thought this was so boring you would have to slit your throat with an unpopped kernel of corn, the film livens up with the arrival of someone's teenage daughter, named, coincidentally, Claire. She is beautiful but, typical of French films, she is innocently unaware of the effect she has on men (see AND GOD CREATED WOMAN to watch this very "French" theme taken to absurd lengths -- the film that launched Bardot.) While the women in the group discuss the girl's "figure" like they were looking to buy cattle, our hero makes the fatal error of getting too close to her knee while she is on a ladder above his eye level. I wish I could tell you more about the plot but that is pretty much it. To satisfy his newfound craving, he spends the rest of the film trying to simply touch that same knee, much the same way an ex-smoker will go after nicotine gum if they can't get the real thing. This is actually a nice little film and, as advertised, Rohmer's best. Depending on your country of origin, and your own opinion as to how many angels can actually dance on the head of a pin, you are either going to love it or hate it.
This is one of the best movies of Rohmer's earlier series of moral tales. The movie wonderfully depicts the complicated relatioship between the hero and his desires, represented by Claire, and the reality of Claire's younger sister, who as masterfully played by Beatrice Romand. This is a wonderful comedy of manners, in which we can laugh at all the characters, how in their attempts to fool others, they only fool themselves. Rohmer has intricately plotted every action, I enjoyed every moment of the film.
How many male-fantasy Lolita flicks do the French have to make before they finally tire of them? CK is like a "Barely Legal" porn film, but with no nudity and above-average dialogue. The fanciful way in which such movies are presented allows the more devious among film-buff perverts to openly enjoy teen-based male fantasies without feeling (too much) shame.

The movie starts off with three warnings.

Warning 1: Winner of some silly award.

Warning 2: Best French Film of the Year.

Warning 3: this is installment no.5 in Rohmer's pretentiously entitled "6 tales of morality" series. (Sort of like the goofy "Three Colours" series.)

You'd been warned at least.

Jerome stumbles onto an old acquaintance of his, a Romanian writer (Aurora), played by an "actress" who I couldn't at first decide was an amateur or continually high on drugs during the shoot. (Her odd behaviour is fascinating.) Jerome hasn't seen her in years, and yet he can't get his hands off her. He is constantly touching her, hugging her, stroking her hair - while he tells her of his engagement to another woman (Lucinda)! C'est la vie. That's how they do it France, I suppose. Or at least Rohmer's France. We find out that Jerome had lived in Morocco. Did he touch women like that THERE?

In this strange Rohmer-world people bump into each other often, whether they be in the Riviera or even Beirut. Either Rohmer-world has a population of only 59 people, or he is telling us something about "destiny". How profound. I'm getting the jitters already. (I always get the jitters when a deeply intellectual French director is about to reveal something amazingly new to me about the world, life, and destiny.)

"When something pleases me, I do it for pleasure", says our thoughtful knee-worshiping hero. Wow. You can't get any more perceptive than that. I'd have expected that from the Pythons, but Rohmer is full of surprises.

Speaking of unhinged French hedonism, an underage girl called Laura appears (17, but 16 here). This is a French movie, so a potential underage seduction story always lurks around every corner. Sure enough, very soon the lurid Romanian woman tells Jerome that Laura is in love with him. (Child-molesters/film-students, get ready to unzip your pants.) Just a minute after she says this, she mentions the possibility of them sleeping together. Ts ts. Won't they EVER "leave us kids alone"? Aurora even says that "there are no innocents these days", sort of trying to undermine the seriousness of this little forbidden-fruit sexual affair, and to suggest that if it happens it carries no victims in its wake. If Aurora hadn't been a writer/diplomat she's have had a perfect career as a Madame in a brothel.

Aurora pushes the idea of an affair with Laura to Jerome, justifying it by saying she needs them both "as an inspiration for her (filthy) novel". (We're lucky Aurora wasn't writing a murder mystery or she might have asked Jerome to kill someone.) Or perhaps she just wants to sneak up to the keyhole? In any case, she mentions her own multiple affairs with "very young boys". (We can only guess the age. 11?). Voila! Now Rohmer's titillation is complete; those thirsty for virgin blood can now smile!

Turns out, Aurora was right: Laura indeed has the hots for this skinny middle-aged man. Every other French movie seems to at least touch on this "forbidden" male fantasy.

"In the 6 years with Lucinda I've never tired of her," says Jerome quite seriously - yet hilariously. 6 years is hardly a "test of endurance" or compatibility when: 1) you'd cheated on your fiancée "with several affairs", 2) you "split-up with her 5-6 times", proving that perhaps you DID tire of her, as much as 5-6 times even, and 3) you spend many weeks and months separated from each other. Duh, Rohmer, duh.

Jerome actually has the cheek to suggest to Laura's mother that he cannot guarantee self-control when alone with her underage daughter Laura when he says: "I'm not so sure (about being level-headed i.e. keeping it in my pants). Perhaps you should count more on your daughter to be level-headed (i.e. keep it in her pants)."

Laura is given dialog that is absurdly adult/sophisticated for her age. Rohmer suggests that an uber-intelligent young girl such as Laura is more likely to involve herself in such a reckless older-man adventure, but in reality it's quite the opposite: dafter girls do this. Besides, ever meet a 16 year-old girl who talks like this? Rohmerian science fiction with aspirations of wisdom-drenched "art".

The 46th minute of the movie, and Claire's knee finally makes its first appearance. What can I say? It's a 15 year-old female knee, like any other. But the ideal age for French writer-directors, and Jerome later describes her bony body as HIS ideal. (She's built like a stick, what a perv he is.) And shouldn't the movie be called "Claire's Knees", plural? Women usually have two of them, and both look the same to me. At this point, I sort of half-expected Aurora to nudge Jerome into seducing Claire too. She might have become a true pimp. But there was no need; by this point Jerome had tasted blood!

The way Jerome endlessly rationalizes (through over-intellectualizing) his basic sexual urges is quite funny (no idea whether this is intentional). He keeps talking about Lucinda's perfection, how he needs no other women, and yet he chases every skirt he sees. Some people hate Rohmer's dialog, but I thought it was fascinating/amusing how this "exalted thinker" tries to justify lustful, hedonistic and decadent urges through semantic diarrhea. Sugar-coating taboo sex? Yup.

In the end, Jerome submits his daily report to Aurora of his flirting-with-teens shenanigans, actually boasting about his "courage" of having fondled a 15 year-old's knee. Hooray for French cinema.

Spoilers herein.

I only know a dozen or fewer Rohmers, but to my mind this is the best. It is because of the self-referential plot, where the writer of the film is a character. It is typical Rohmer, but more clever than usual. Within the double-written story is an embedded fantasy (about the sublime knee).

You need to completely relax when sharing these films. They are meditations which encompass illustrated essays. The actors are horrid, but so understated that it works. Just like the sensual but overexposed photography. It all underscores the highly abstract nature of the space, and that is its greatest virtue. Very little moves within a scene, and there is little art in the transition between scenes. The transporting is all in the stillness.

And that allows you, if you are so inclined, to fill in the visions as if it were facilitated radio. Along the way in this film, I actually became obsessed myself. This man is special, and I do not know what I will do when he stops making white space as my cinematic anchor.

Ted's evaluation: 3 of 4 -- Worth watching.
Like most of Eric Rohmer's work, you will either enjoy the laid-back atmosphere and chatty characters in Claire's Knee, or find it all incredibly boring. I happen to love them. It's rare to find movies that don't want to be sensationalistic and violent, but would rather present universal questions and then investigate them throughout the course of the movie.

I would recommend Love in the Afternoon as an entry into Rohmer however, as it is a little more pacey for those unfamiliar with his style. And my personal favourite is "The Green Ray"... but don't start there as the subject of the film is about boredom!
After a dispiriting encounter with THE COLLECTOR (1967), the fourth number of Rohmer's SIX MORAL TALES, I feel elated that the fifth entry CLAIRE'S KNEE has rekindled my passion in Rohmer's body work, his superlative insight as regards self-boosting pretension over real agenda inward has reached a high-point in this basically nothing-has-happened miniature.

A high-flying diplomat Jérôme (Brialy) has returned to Lake Annecy to sell his family house, one month prior his wedding, he will marry the woman who he has an on-and-off relationship over 6 years. By sheer chance, he meets his old friend, the novelist Aurora (Cornu), who has lodged in Madame Walter's (Montel) lake house at the foot of the mountain nearby, to finish her latest novel.

While the two reminisce about the past and update each other with information of the intervening years, Aurora is slightly agape to know that Jérôme decides to tie the knot, in her view, he is not a marrying type, but Jérôme claims that he and her fiancée has reached a perfectly and mutually understanding phrase - an open relationship as long as there is nothing too serious to undercut their marriage, which implies that two-timing is not a problem at all.

Later Aurora introduces Jérôme to Madame Walter and her teenage daughter Laura (Romand), who, strikes up a crush on Jérôme. Aurora is stuck in writer's block, so Jérôme volunteers to be her guinea pig, to explore the situation with Laura, then reports back to Aurora with all the details. Laura is genial, precocious, coruscating with contradictory ideas (the love/dispute relation with her mother, bored/fascinated by the picturesque scenery), she is not afraid to admit her feelings for Jérôme, but when the latter attempts a wet kiss, she brushes him aside, teases that she wants to be totally in love, not with a soon-to-be-married man, yet the truth is that she will embark on her study in Britain, sooner than Jérôme's due date.

Jérôme enjoys Laura's company, takes her mountain hiking and riding in his motorboat, tries to cop a feel when timing is proper and fails epically, but how can any man not lap up the gratifying feeling of being the receiving end of a teenage girl's passing fancy?, although Laura's candid sophistication is something saps him of any further actions. However, before soon, Laura is no longer his main focal point, because Claire (de Monaghan), Laura's slightly older half-sister, a sultrier blonde arrives, so is her boyfriend, a muscle-showboating jock Gilles (Falconetti). Jérôme involuntarily develops a fetish for Claire's knee, tender, smooth and immensely arousing for his taste, he confesses to Aurora, and takes the ultimate task: to touch Claire's knee under her full consent.

So, obviously Gilles is the weak point to achieve his mission, expressing to Claire that she can find someone much better than Gilles is a stock line from a sour man who is not even qualified for competition, but insidiously avenges to break up a seemingly matched couple on a shaky pretext, it doesn't work usually, as the heart wants what its wants, there is always some behind-the-closed- door magic potion can retain a relationship, so who would take an onlooker's subjective opinion seriously, especially he is a total stranger? However, Jérôme seizes a golden opportunity, dismantles Claire's defence by aiming her Achilles heel, a young girl's intuitive insecurity, and he accomplishes his task, almost grotesquely surreal, during those time-still minutes, a whimpering Claire glances at Jérôme, whose hand is continuing rubbing her knee, she seems baffling but doesn't care to stop since it seems to be an innocuous gesture, still, in the eyes of a beholder, a latent sexual tension has reached its breaking point.

In Jérôme's self-satisfactory version, his act is bold but meritorious, not only he fulfils his primal desire, it is also beneficial for Claire, to save her from the hands of a philander, so, he leaves with triumphant brio to his approaching wedding. Aurora stays, and in the end, from her eyes, we see what happens afterwards between Claire and Gilles, it is a far cry from what Jérôme has envisioned. It is all mapped out under Rohmer's master-plan, one's shallow and subjective vision versus what happens in reality, most of time, we are prone to feel conceited by our own judgment and perception, yet, most of it is indeed a fanciful illusion, a bubble masterfully bursts under the strikingly scenic palette and a spare cast.

The acting is above-par, a heavy-bearded Jean-Claude Brialy effortlessly alternates between a welcoming rapport with an amateurish Aurora Cornu (the Romanian-born French writer, who visibly glimpses into the camera many a time and inclines to speak her lines with eyes zooming in on the floor, but those tics doesn't impede the narrative, on the contrary it renders a vérité feel), an engaging and heart-to-heart communication with the newcomer Béatrice Romand, and his voyeuristic limerence with an attractive but vapidly uninterested Laurence de Monaghan. Told in a style of visualising diary entries in a one-month span, CLAIRE'S KNEE is mostly about talking, and talking could be tedious or overbearing, or sometime both, it all depends on who's talking, and how do the repercussions pan out, here Rohmer has found his feet and to say the least, the film is an undeniable acme in Rohmer's awe-inspiring oeuvre, a significant cultural legacy bequeathed to all mankind.
How does Rohmer get away with it? I don't just mean making the films, but how do they get to become regarded as classics? This film has nothing meaningful to say about anything whatsoever. Not only do these characters not exist within your life; they don't exist anywhere. As often with French films the word 'love' becomes interchangeable with passion or just simply fancying someone to the point where it becomes pointless even using the term.

Brialy's lead 'performance' as Jerome comes across as if Rohmer simply shouted the lines out to him before he said 'action'. I know it's the 70's but please! Jerome's sub Jason King wardrobe with a full beard! And were supposed to believe he is attractive to so many women, including the beautiful 16 year old school girl Laura (Romand gives the only interesting performance despite the material she's given to work with). The pacing is so poor, it makes Manos: The Hand of Fate seem like Hard-Boiled.

At one point, I started to deliberately sit in an awkward position to see if my ulcer would start playing up as a way of introducing some tension and drama into the experience. Rohmer's indifference to his audience is summed up by the scene where Brialy relates in detail to his author friend Aurora (Cornu who seems to think she's acting in a kids TV programme) all the events that we have just seen IN DETAIL in the last bloody scene.

If you passed a camera, some film stock, a couple of lights, a tape recorder and a pen and paper to the next 7 people who passed your door (even if they were an old woman with a shopping basket, 2 four year old boys, a tramp, your mum, the wag man and an escaped convict) and gave them two weeks to knock something together. They would still come back with something more interesting, engaging and most importantly more meaningful than this.

Cinematography was pleasant.
Our protagonist, Jerome, returns to his vacation home to sell it. There, he runs into an old acquaintance, Aurora--a writer who asks him to get involved with a teenage girl, Laura, so that she can get material for her writing. The premise is interesting but his relationship with the girl offers little worth writing about or filming.

Then Jerome meets Laura's step-sister, Claire, and becomes fascinated with her knee. This is an even more interesting idea, but again the result of his fascination is less than fascinating.

"Clare's Knee" is one of Eric Rohmer's "six moral tales". Some might find moral issues within this story, but I think it deals more with philosophical speculation. Jerome and Aurora--in what I see as a particularly French approach to film--pontificate on and speculate about the best way to deal with young lovers and the value of such relationships. It is little more than discussing the best way to bake a ham. And while it might be self-indulgent, the greater sin is its boring quality.

This is Jerome's story. Ninety-five percent of the film centers on him. If he were to exhibit passion or obsession, then the viewer might find the emotions within this story. But he and Aurora clinically dissect the action and, worse yet, the director does not give us a gateway into his emotions. This is not "Lolita", where Humbert would have us understand his obsession with a knee.

In the end, we find that Jerome really understood little about anything. The quality of the photography is enjoyable, but it can't make up for the unartistic nature of this film. Some have called this film "warm" and "sensual". I found it to be neither.
First let me say, I have seen some very excellent French films, both relatively recent ones and some of the classics from decades past. It would be preposterous either to condemn or praise a country's cinema across the board. But there is a genre of French film where I can barely make it past the first reel, and often don't, and that is the meditation-on-the-nature-of-sexual-love genre.

In that arena, these folks have a positive genius for taking two interminable talky hours to tell us nothing of consequence whatsoever, and certainly nothing we didn't already know. Love is complex, both painful and pleasurable. Yeah, all right already, we get it. Please, move on to some issues that are located above the waist for a change.

I could tell you something about this film specifically, but there are plenty of other descriptions of French films like this that you can simply plug in here, so I'll save us both the time.
For years I've heard this movie hyped out of all proportion so it was perhaps inevitable that I was less than smitten when I finally got around to seeing it. What stuck out like a sore thumb - if not a grazed knee - was Rohmer's 'new wave' technique of ending a scene brusquely when it would no longer support the point he was trying to make. I lost count of the times he just cut almost on the tail end of dialogue and up came yet another cap to tell us it was now Wednesday the fourth of July or whatever. In my book this is just sloppy film making yet even as I write this I hear the laboured breathing of pseuds baying for blood. So be it; I still maintain there's nothing wrong with professional writing, slickness if you will, where one scene grows out of another smoothly and as inexorably as Sophocles or one of those other three cats who were writing out of Athens in the 5th century BC. This beef being registered the principals were pleasant to look at and on the whole managed to deliver their lines without bumping into the furniture but other than that I came dangerously close to wasting my time.
This film, overall, was about as exciting as the title. Then again, if you enjoy a bunch of hedonistic Frenchmen sitting around talking, talking and more talking, all espousing Liberal philosophies....you'll love it!

The group includes a bearded dude, his wife and friends, and a guy who has the hots for a 14-year-old girl, "Clarie."

I'm not kidding. Go ahead, spend a few bucks, rent this film and you'll see what I mean. This is about as boring a movie as you will ever find. Literally, staring at someone's knee for 105 minutes is about as interesting as listening to this drivel labeled "dialog."
one of the most beautiful movie by Rohmer. when I saw this film for the first time i was in Brasil (Saao Paulo) and the movie was whistled at the end of the performance by the assistance. In fact, I found the movie a little bit ridiculous and native. i reviewed this movie on TV, a few years later, in France, and was then enthusiastic. I've since become a fan of Rohmer and I've seen nearly all of his films.
If you look closely at the screen, and go past the bucolic setting that Eric Rohmer has painted as if he were creating his own calendar for the year, there is an ugly perversion lurking just behind these bright, sunny colors, and a wolf walks around in sheep's clothing egged on by a wicked witch. LA GENOU DE CLAIRE (CLAIRE'S KNEE) is extremely, astoundingly deceptive as it's frank in exposing the corrupt beast at the center of this story. Jerome is a diplomat set to marry his fiancée Lucinda out of duty, and is staying at a guest house in the town where he used to live. There he meets authoress Aurora who is none too discreet to mention that the landlady's sixteen-year old daughter, Laura, has the hots for him. Aurora even encourages him to make a pass at her, which he does... while Laura proves she has a strong intellect that makes her much older than her age would imply. Jerome and Laura initiate a series of conversations that bring them near sex on a high hill, and despite the age difference, Eric Rohmer and Nestor Almendros' camera captures an eroticism sizzling between the two actors.

Into the picture comes Claire. Claire is blond, pretty, a real looker, and has a boyfriend, Gilles. Something snaps inside Jerome: it's the moment when he acknowledges a conscious desire that was bubbling with Laura only scenes before, but because he is a diplomat, he won't consummate. His attention then falls on her exposed knee -- Claire wears a lot of miniskirts -- which he places his hand on in a casual way and therefore, gets some internal, secret gratification. Now, while this may seem rather boring for the viewer expecting to see Claire become a Lolita-like nymphet (she, in fact, is rather colorless like her pale nature, and is completely into her boyfriend, rarely having conversations with anyone else but him) or Jerome become a sex-obsessed maniac, it's interesting to just sit back and view the dynamics of a man caught in a desire so strong that the only way to act on it is to repress it and make it as passive and casual as possible with the act of placing a hand over her knee. Only later in the movie does this action generate some ugly consequences, and Jerome becomes exposed as the corroded human being that he is.

A deceptive movie, CLAIRE'S KNEE may irritate viewers because of its incessant talk, and in French, to top it off. I'll admit that while it worked in MY NIGHT AT MAUD'S because the characters were likable, here, because Rohmer's cast is almost entirely of unknowns except Jean-Claude Brialy (looking much more masculine than his early Sixties heydays and playing his part with an enormous, sensual restraint), the dialogue sounds flat and somewhat mannered here and there, but I wouldn't be surprised if Rohmer was looking for a natural feel. Even so, for anyone patient to listen to these people prattle about the game of love and sex, it's worth the watch, if in fact it's not as memorable as MY NIGHT AT MAUD'S, or even in CHLOE IN THE AFTERNOON, the last of his Six Moral Tales.
Technically, this was a very good movie. The cinematography was beautiful and breathtaking--the setting really enhanced the film. Plus the acting was very good--no complaints there.

However, the story itself felt very creepy and disturbed me. A 35 year-old guy meets an old lady friend and becomes close to the family that this lady friend rents a room from. The mother seems about 35 or so and she has a daughter that appears about 13 or so--maybe 14. There is also a step-daughter who looks about 16. Through much of the film, this man seems awfully familiar with the girls--going so far as kissing the youngest on the lips passionately and rubbing his dirty paws all over the knees of the older girl, Claire. The movie's title, by the way, was chosen because this guy turns out to be a "knee freak" and he is turned on by this teen's knees. This is all orchestrated by the old lady friend, who to me seems like she's encouraging this. THIS IS WAY TOO CREEPY for me and I am amazed that NONE of the comments so far mention the inappropriateness of this weirdo. Yuck.
This movie is so overrated. Yes, it is beautiful to watch because of its highly-aesthetic ambiance (filming locations are dazzlingly wonderful) but plot development was quite boring.
On the point of getting married, Jean-Claude Brialy, a seductive diplomat in his thirties, spends his final holiday as a bachelor by the lake at Annecy. There he meets one of his friends, Aurora Cornu, a Rumanian novelist. Summertime sensuality, luminous images and subtle dialogue for a melancholic study of love, beautifully portrayed by Jean-Claude Brialy, perfect as the mature seducer.
...And thank God it's like that 'cause otherwise i would never have had the opportunity to see this film. And it's really a great film, at least in my opinion.

Thorought four weeks the National TV showed several Rohmer films and i liked this one, along with "Pauline a la plage", the most. It's really a very charming film and so french, which is great because i love french cinema. I really like Rohmer's style too. It gives me a great pleasure to sit back and watch all these intelligent(mostly) and surely beautiful people just talking. It's not that this film doesn't have a plot but it's just less important than the characters and i really like that. If you watch carefully and if you're intelligent enough, you'll get involved in the story and you won't feel bored at all but there's not so many people that are really able to understand films like this one and Rohmer's cinema as a whole.

Nevermind. I'm really glad i saw this movie and as i've already told you, i saw several other Rohmer's too. And it's all because Thursday Night is a French Cinema Night on the National Telvision. I saw also several Truffaut's and Pialat's. Overall the National Television sucks but i really have to thank them for their Thursday Night.
There's a lot of talking going on in "Claire's Knee", the fifth film in Eric Rohmer's "Six Moral Tales" film series. Of course, it's no surprise that there's so much talk in "Claire's Knee", because in every of the "Six Moral Tales", characters seem to keep having these long discussions. However, what is surprising about the talk in "Claire's Knee" (and the other films in the "Six Moral Tales" series)is how engaging it all seems to be.

Characters go on and on about various things, usually dealing with love. Sometimes, a character will even talk about something that the audience already saw previously in the film, but it's still engaging, because it adds a bit extra to our understanding of that character and that earlier scene.

"Claire's Knee" is a film that isn't JUST great dialogue, it is also a film with great characters to say the dialogue. It also offers beautiful, summertime scenery, an excellent story, and, in the end, one truly wonderful film!
A self-possessed, fortyish man of the world, on the verge of marriage, summers by the seaside, where his lust fixates on a wised-up nymphet who won't have him. Unsated, his desire moves on to her blank-faced sister--or rather, the sister's lithe, tennis-playing knee.

As always in Rohmer, the audience is cautioned to check its head in the opening scenes; we are forced to dial down to a level of attention where the nuances of conversational game-playing, phony retractions and crafty grabs at checkmate, are the only blips on our radar screen. The way Nestor Almendros photographs it, the seaside locations are so sumptuously sexual they're almost pornographic; they give the genteel proceedings a pregnancy, as if Hitchcockian mayhem is on the verge of eruption. It isn't; but the climax tells a different story from the rest of this cool, crickety, blithe picture--an ominous, O. Henryish one about the price of unfulfilled male desire.

I took a look at CLAIRE'S KNEE on the occasion of the almost-eighty-year-old Rohmer's latest picture, AN AUTUMN TALE, to see how the canon held up--is Rohmer what he seems to be, a sadder-but-wiser op-ed columnist on the subject of love intrigue? Or is he the "tasteful" poet of leetle-girl lechery? I am cynically leaning toward the latter, perhaps because I'm put off by scenes in which French males nod with ironic agreement as their little cherry pie intones earnestly, "Really, I'm a very old soul." Rohmer even has a menopausal (and hence genially washed-up) female watching the fortyish roue's frustrations with a classically Gallic laugh at the human comedy of it all. Rohmer's "tolerance" has an instructional, Old Wave fuddiness about it. And the ending--in which the roue's cruelty is undone by the innocence of youth, as if teenage girls were infants forgetting they had just fall down go boom--is creepy, like a self-reassuring entry in Humbert Humbert's journal.

But Rohmer deserves his due: he's as acute a journalist of move and countermove--some of them unconscious--as Marivaux. Unfortunately, like Marivaux, Rohmer suffers from excess courtliness. One yearns for entropic real life to drool down the sides of his porcelain.
This film, and many others, mainly from French origin, raise the most important question of all about cinema : Is it the artistic son of Images, and at the turn of the XIX to the XX century, that means painting, or is it a son of Theatre, a subset of Literature, the "reign of the WORD" ?.

I believe it it "moving Images", son of still Painting.. After all, we are still discussing the meaning of the smile of Leonardo's "Mona Lisa" 500 years after its painting date...

Murnau, Fritz Lang, Hitchcock,Kurosawa, even Jean Renoir, tell a story by images.

Mr. Jean-Marie Scherer, aka Eric Rohmer, cheats the medium. This is not a movie it is "radiophonic theater" illustrated by beautiful people in beautiful landscapes, thanks to the great cinematographer Nestor Almendros.

French cinema is somewhat difficult to be understood by people of Anglo-Saxon, even by other Latin cultures.

But Renoir, Truffaut, Chabrol, perhaps even Claude Sautet are Universal. Mr. Scherer or Rohmer is certainly not. He is just a babbler...
Claire's Knee is a playful sex comedy that almost gets a little too playful for conventional morality. Filled with gorgeous Alpine scenery and strikingly honest dialogue, the film gives us plenty to think and talk about. In Claire's Knee, Jerome (Jean-Claude Brialy) is a good looking diplomat who is on a brief vacation in the Alpine village of Talloires before he is to be married. He meets an old friend Aurora (Aurora Cornu) who is a novelist. Aurora wants to observe Jerome interacting with other women so she can be inspired to write something about it, and persuades Jerome to court two teenage girls, daughters of the woman she is staying with.

He first tries to court Laura, superbly played by Beatrice Romand, an unusually perceptive teenager, but fails. At first their relationship is fun but later becomes tense when both realize the inappropriate nature of their behavior. He then turns attention to the beautiful but less profound Claire (Laurence De Monaghan) and develops an obsession to fondle her knee, a seemingly perverse fixation but in Rohmer's eyes, it seems rather innocent. Jerome is on the verge of temptation but is rescued by the careful decisions of his own conscience and his commitment to his fiancée. I think everyone here learns through failure that sometimes it is necessary to step back and get a handle on the possible consequences of your actions.