Les nuits de la pleine lune—literally, Nights of the Full Moon—is the fourth entry in Eric Rohmer’s Comedies and Proverbs. This one is illustrative of a “country proverb”: “He who has two women loses his soul. He who has two houses loses his mind.” The “he” in this instance is a “she,” and indeed the film shows that both women and men share similar feelings of anxiety and vulnerability in sexual relationships. Arts graduate Louise and bureaucrat Rémi take turns being jealous, with Rémi’s jealousy confronting Louise’s air of being above such feelings. Choosing to divide her time between the place she shares with Rémi in Marne and her own apartment in Paris, Louise reassures her partner, telling him that she will remain faithful but sometimes needs time alone, and that he might find someone he loves more than he loves her. When Rémi confesses to having done just that, however, Louise disintegrates, especially since, after a night with band member Bastien, she has decided to dedicate her time to their shared life together. Louise makes all these decisions unilaterally.
Someone else is constantly jealous: Louise’s married friend Octave. Bastien unnerves Octave, who asks Louise, “How can you grant others what you deny me?”
We behave according to our feelings and our attempts to rein these in. The titular moon is irrelevant.
Another Rohmer marvel of insight into human relations, the comedy is beautifully acted. One recalls that Rohmer never directed Jean-Pierre Léaud; Fabrice Luchini’s delightfully self-absorbed writer, Octave, allows him to do so by spirited proxy. But the film’s centerpiece is Pascale Ogier’s not-on-top-of-things-though-pretending-to-be Louise (best actress, Venice). Bulle Ogier’s daughter died of a heart attack the year of the film’s release, just one day short of her twenty-sixth birthday.
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