The Baker Girl of Monceau and Suzanne's Career

Eric Rohmer has long acknowledged his debt to Balzac—who also confused philosophy with psychology and self-serving decisions with morality—so it's no surprise that in The Baker Girl of Monceau (1962, 23 min.), the first of Rohmer's “Six Moral Tales,” a young man thinks that standing up one woman to pursue another is a “moral choice.” That film and its successor, Suzanne's Career (1963, 52 min.), create a peculiarly French interweave of language and passion, interiority and action. When Guillaume mistreats his girlfriend, Suzanne, his friend Bertrand disapproves but also secretly admires him, and eventually they both begin to toy with her, and she with them, in a thoroughly Balzacian conflation of sex, friendship, and money. Rohmer closely observes small details about his characters and their material life, but he's not much of a visual stylist.

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