A classic morale tale in every sense of the word. A film about the struggle between the desire of the flesh and your obligations as a partner. In other words: Should our protagonist Frédéric cheat on his wife with crazy Chloé or not?
He kind of already has, as we see them kissing. But is he really going to go all the way? Well, you’re gonna have to watch and see for yourself.
Not only is L’amour l’après-midi Rohmer’s most successful one of his Six Moral Tales, it is also his visually most striking one. And that is due to this one apparition that is Zouzou: basically a full on stylised 70s rock chick, although fully dressed (most of the time).
What I can tell you is that the film set a precedent in style for Céline’s campaign in 2020. Chloé’s poses, her entire posture and the way she lives her life is not refined or even classy. We never see her with her legs crossed or at least put together. Like a big truck driver she sits with her legs wide open as she sports sexy Levi’s jeans, a tight turtle neck and platform heels. Her sensuality is right there, she seems instantly available. And she seems to be convinced of her seducing skills like a teenage girl who is surrounded by teenage boys.
Chloe is a bit of a mess, in those few weeks we see her changing flat and jobs three times, even her appearance isn’t steady. Her style is also largely determined by her work and mood, there is no consistency. Mood is what describes her best. Chloé does what she wants to, not what she should, in order to get her life together.
As a result, she is impulsive, vain, proud and unsuccessful in every way. Yet she is accustomed to this so she isn’t seeking anything else.
Whats embarrassing is even the way she first pops up. Unannounced, she pops into a guys office, who she was friends with back in school days. She is in town, looked up where he works and says hi, out of nowhere, Oh wait, she then confesses she was hoping to get work. Chloé does what she always seems to be doing. Use men to get a place to sleep, work and some attention. In the meantime, Frédéric couldn’t be more the opposite of her. He is married, and his wife is expecting another one. He is successful with his own firm and things seem to be generally going well for him. He’s a successful adult. But still, Chloé represents the wild, the unknown, and despite her immaturity, she gets the hang of people and their personalities. But only to a certain extent. The rest of her is pure vanity. Essentially, Chloé is someone who lacks a bit of self respect. She is busy proving people that she is in charge, that she gets what she wants, that she is irresistible. What for? She is still restless, emotionally and physically unsettled. Chloé is a girl who gets passed around and for a few moments of attention, she drops her entire life and duties. But it doesn’t work out for her in the long run. What when she gets old and unattractive? Ironically, this film is set up to be more about Frédéric’s internal struggle and his path, rather than Chloé’s. She is a welcome distraction, she does pop in like a paradise bird who came in through the window. Yet still, she has noting to lose and Frédéric everything. So this is again another contrast between those two.
As a part of the moral tales, the lesson is: do your homework kids, get a job, don’t rely on your looks. Cockiness alone isn’t gonna sort you out for the rest of your life. Oh and if you’re married and you get tempted to go to bed with someone else…Think about the real reason.