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Claire's Knee

3.5 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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(Mar 31, 1998)
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Editorial Reviews

Abrasive, self-deluded humor tinges the prickly exploration of sexual politics in French director Eric Rohmer's world and it often makes for less-than-comfortable viewing. Though Rohmer has made movies for several decades, his best-known films comprise a cycle loosely dubbed "The Six Moral Tales" (one short, one featurette, and four features), which also includes La Collectionneuse, My Night at Maud's, and Chloe in the Afternoon. Rohmer's comedies are full of the disillusion and jaded settling that come with age and adulthood, and he sharply contrasts cynicism against the naiveté and easy, innocent wisdom of youth. In Claire's Knee, Jean-Claude Brialy plays a diplomat named Jerome Montcharvin, who agrees to housesit a friend's rural but lavish country estate for a month. Jerome appears contented with life as he's recently become engaged to Lucinde, a woman he's known for six years. He takes refuge in the fact that she is his opposite, and placates his doubts by reminding himself that "a woman made for me would bore me." Into this summer idyll and Jerome's predictable, ordered life come two teenage girls who threaten his faithful but passionless ardor for his fiancée. To temper his awakening libido, Jerome pretends to "experiment" with the young women's affections and, in doing so, exposes himself as a cruel, callous man who is clueless as to his true nature. Though a close woman friend cautions him that "in love, there is will," he dismisses the possibility yet in the end performs an act of "pure will" with one of the teens, the lovely Claire, and brashly hurts that which he most desires. Claire's Knee was shot by the brilliant cinematographer, the late Nestor Almendros, and the color palette in the film is a masterpiece of style and scheme. It's a Monet on celluloid, and its visual prowess, combined with the provocative, unsettling theme, earned the National Society of Film Critics' Best Film prize in 1971. (Unfortunately, the first "reel" of the DVD transfer contains several noticeable scratches and the color is also faded and purple.) --Paula Nechak

Special Features

  • Production credits
  • Awards

Product Details

  • Actors: Jean-Claude Brialy, Aurora Cornu, Béatrice Romand, Laurence de Monaghan, Michèle Montel
  • Directors: Éric Rohmer
  • Writers: Éric Rohmer
  • Producers: Barbet Schroeder, Pierre Cottrell
  • Format: Color, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: French (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: Fox Lorber
  • DVD Release Date: March 31, 1998
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Domestic Shipping: Currently, item can be shipped only within the U.S. and to APO/FPO addresses. For APO/FPO shipments, please check with the manufacturer regarding warranty and support issues.
  • International Shipping: This item is not eligible for international shipping. Learn More
  • ASIN: 1572522445
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,384 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Claire's Knee" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This is my favorite film by one of the greatest (and subtlest) writer/directors in world cinema, and its distressingly mediocre rating from so many reviewers here seems solely due to the American cultural hangup with an older man flirting with younger girls. But the absurdity of such attractions is exactly what this movie is about! The character of Jerome spends the entire film articulately rationalizing away his very real desire for a young girl who disdains him--finally fixating upon a single touch of her knee as a way to expiate any power she seems to hold over him. This film is about a man struggling with his own weakness and his own denial. There is absolutely nothing unseemly in any of Eric Rohmer's handling of this subject, and, indeed, the character of 15-year-old Laura, the girl who is kissed and embraced by the older Jerome, is one of the most knowing and self-possessed characters in the film. Her ultimate snub of Jerome when, too-little-too-late, he comes to appreciate her, is a key to the subtle humiliation to which Rohmer subjects Jerome. This film is a masterful examination of how people can speak one way and *act* another because of the power of their desires, and anyone who finds it offensive in some way should just get over it! Take your cultural baggage somewhere else.
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Format: DVD
An Eric Rohmer film is not a typical film by US standards, or by European stardards either. But it's a very interesting piece of entertainment, at least very beautiful to see.

The story in Claire's Knee is very simple, but even if it was more ambitious or complicated it wouldn't be the point. And this is what people miss when they watch Rohmer's films. It's the pace, the background scenery, the natural ambience. It's an invitation to the viewer to join the cast, and feel like one more character, a very attentive and quiet character. And this is truly the magic of Rohmer's beautiful films, specially this one. Among his films, I prefer My Night At Maud's, because it's not only beautiful to the eye, but the story interests me more too.

Claire's Knee is such a delicate and precious work of art for its simplicity, and it really feels like being sucked into the scene by the characters interactions, and becoming more and more involved in the conversations. You can pick your own sides, and most of all, you can study (try to understand) the characters by staring at their faces without being impolite. And you can also just enjoy the beautiful scenery and breathe fresh air from the Alps.

So I recommend it but warn you that it should be viewed without any expectations as for plot or big excitements. Take it as an invitation to join a few friends for a few days in the French Alps during the summer. Get into the European mood and have a nice vacation.

I wish is had a better quality dvd. The other option is the Criterion edition that just came out.
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Format: VHS Tape
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.
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Format: DVD
First of all, I want to stress that the low rating for this DVD does not refer to the film itself, but to the lackluster transfer by Fox Lorber. I can second the comment of the reviewer below, that the film itself deserves five stars, whereas the video and audio quality of this DVD are no better than a VHS tape (in fact, this would be very low quality for a VHS for that matter). Moreover, as with their Godard and Truffaut issues, Fox Lorber has marked only 6 chapter headings on this DVD. Now how hard is it to bookmark a chapter? Of course, I suppose that would actually require taking some interest in the film itself, and perhaps even watching it a couple of times, so as to gadge the appropriate moments to bookmark. Thus, this DVD does not even have the advantage of convenient chapter options. It is a shame that a company who owns the rights to so many great films repeatedly releases such poorly engineered DVDs. There are, of course, exceptions (more recent titles, many of the Truffaut issues, or Godard's "Vivre Sa Vie," for example). Nonetheless, I have come to expect from Fox Lorber below average video and audio quality, along with few special features, if any (even the director and actor videographies are often incomplete). Even though I own many DVDs from Fox Lorber, inspite of their mediocre quality, this is one issue that I cannot recommend. I first rented this film on DVD, but elected to purchase it on VHS, instead. This is my second favorite Rohmer film, finishing a close second after "Chloe in the Afternoon," and I would recommend it to anyone interested in the French New Wave. However, do not waste your money on this DVD.
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