In Éric Rohmer’s La Collectionneuse shows us how temptation can make a grown man look like a fool. Daniel and Adrien welcome the only girl in their friends’ vacation home in an icy, if not condescending manner. They call Haydee regularly a “slut without morals, a lost cause”. Because she sleeps around a lot, they named her “the collector”. Besides, the men reveal themselves to be weak and helpless in their efforts to try to change her behaviour. As the following quote indicates, the men are afraid of Haydée’s confidence and prefer to keep their distance.
“The more girls a guy has, the more he’s suspect. The important thing is not to be liked. It flatters me. It’s nice not to be in her collection.”Daniel in La Collectionneuse
Sensuality in La Collectionneuse
Sensuality is all around: We see legs entwined, men begging for sex, a girl running away from it, then sleeping with the abuser, with the old, the young, whoever whenever. Constant mind games and theories are being played out that are supposed to analyse those adventures. But instead, they humiliate the girl, insult her and try to guilt trip her everytime she goes out. These men just simply can’t come to terms with the fact that she really doesn’t care what they think of her. Instead, she stays unflustered, smoking her cigarette and continuing her thing.
Adrien: I found a definition for Haydée. She’s a collector! Haydée, if you sleep around without premeditation you are the lowest of the low. The atrocious ingenue. But, if you collect in a consistent way, with obstinacy, it’s a plot, things are entirely different.
Daniel: Yes, but she collects badly.
Haydée: I’m not a collector.
Adrien: Don’t say that. It’s your only quality.
Haydée: You’re completely wrong. I’m searching. I’m searching to find something.
Subconscious gender swapping in la Collectionneuse
What’s really striking is that we see those two pathetic men dressed up in pink flower dressing gowns and weird capes that look like an old mid century night dress. We see them dressed up like this when they talk about laziness and how to make the most of it, or when they insult Haydée for being a libertine or when they sit at home slapping her bum as she walks out the house to go out at night. They appear like a bunch of ageing, jealous, old women who have to watch their men going out with their mistress, leaving the wives helpless and angry at home.
Mysoginy towards Haydée
There’s serious misogyny and a strong sense of insecurity. While Adrien understands the mechanism and sees through it, he fails to understand his own pathetic weakness towards this girl. He loathes her yet it seems that his ego is bruised that she is not interested in him. Adrien seems to be at odds with his own desires. He does want her but he also wants to not want her because he thinks she’s just a slut. He wants his sex drive to be conform with his mind and convictions. When he finally leaves her because he has enough of her and her antics, he is overcome with fright. This tells me that he doesn’t feel confident enough to confront her, he is scared of the idea facing her after leaving her on the street. What if she comes back ? It’s like a girl trying to leave her abusive boyfriend.
His only solution is to leave right away the same evening to go back to his girlfriend where he feels at home, thus abandoning his holiday, his connections. In the very beginning he states that all he wants to focus on is his future gallery and now all of this is once again on hold. His girlfriend even says to him, she never really understood his projects because he never gets things done. There is never anything tangible and the one thing he managed to acquire, a precious Chinese vase, gets broken by the girl he calls “a pest”.
These men appear incompetent and insecure, not anymore successful in life as the girl they carl “just a slut”.