Pierre loves Marion, Marion desires Henri, Henri only stays with Marion because she desires him, but he really desires Louisette, then we have Pauline caught in the middle seeking the love of Sylvain. This is a love triangle with each person desiring the wrong person. The questions raised in this film are articulate and yet futile, for it seems no one really understands the true workings of love, but Rohmer has fun.
The beach, often the locus of reckoning in Rohmer's work (La collectionneuse, Ma nuit chez Maud, Conte d'été), plays a similarly important role here. One gets the sense that Rohmer is having a laugh at the adults in the film. They're all too eager to pontificate about love, but are ultimately exposed as more foolish than the very children they seek to instruct.
An exceedingly leisurely if sometimes inconsistent farce where—apropos the thematic proverb about wagging your tongue—everyone tells a lie to everyone else at some point or another, wittingly or unwittingly. Motives can be frustratingly loose in some of Rohmer's scenes. But he centers the story beautifully on a teenager out to make goddamn sure she doesn't mimic the idle, confused, deluded games of the adults.
Comedies and proverbs. Totally. We remain a comedy for the Gods. And God bless Pauline. At least the kid seems to basically get it. I find myself prematurely ancient, able to get a good purchase on this material now. I see this movie w/ the eyes of an anthropologist. I would like to think. I having nothing to do w/ the business on display ... until I do. Pure madness. That people actually hook up. Fascinating.
Three stars in the context of Rohmer's filmography; otherwise, four. (All measurements are arrived at using sensitive and carefully calibrated instruments pulled right out of my ass. I'm much more comfortable now, thanks for asking.) I defy you to identify a lighter-hearted, better-intended strain of wistful, pleasure-seeking cynicism about passion and self-deception in alla ze cinema. May be a bit wan for some.
The characters and social-emotional interactions between them are Rohmer-worthy, yet this film pulls off to be a lot less dry than most of his films, making it accessible to many people who get bored by Rohmer's otherwise plain, slow, plot-light style. The topic of what makes people attract each other romantically is unusually exposed and universally interesting, and the plot develops well. One of Rohmer's best.