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Film / A Summer's Tale

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A Summer's Tale (French: Conte d'été) is a 1996 French film written and directed by Éric Rohmer. It's the third of his Tales of the Four Seasons.

Gaspard (Melvil Poupaud) has finished up his mathematics studies and decides to spend the summer on the coast of Brittany before he starts a new job. He's also a guitarist and composer and expects lots of time alone to work on his music. Instead, the somewhat shy, introverted Gaspard finds himself in a completely unexpected predicament: juggling the affection of three different women.

Margot (Amanda Langlet, who previously played the title role in Pauline at the Beach) is an ethnology student working part-time as a waitress. She and Gaspard have great personal chemistry, but have decided they're Better as Friends. Solène (Gwenaëlle Simon) is beautiful, with long, dark, curly hair. She's very affectionate and shares an interest in music, but she's also feisty and demanding. Léna (Aurelia Nolin) is his longtime friend, with whom he has a difficult relationship, owing to her fickle nature. She's supposed to arrive any day from overseas, but doesn't seem like she'll ever actually show up.


As summer winds down, Gaspard knows he will have to make his final choice between the three. But fate doesn't seem to want to make that easy for him.

This film contains examples of:

  • Author Avatar: Rohmer admitted that much of the story is autobiographical, and that Gaspard is based on his younger self. Melvil Poupaud even studied Rohmer's physical mannerisms and included them in his performance.
  • Betty and Veronica: Solène is Veronica. Margot and Lena both have Betty qualities, even if they both claim they don't really want their relationship with Gaspard to turn romantic.
  • Call-Back: Some subtle ones to earlier Rohmer films.
  • Consummate Liar: Gaspard is more of a Consummate Dissembler, but it's hard for him to be honest.
  • Deus ex Machina: The ending where the "machina" part is quite literal. Gaspard finds out from a friend about a great deal on a multitrack tape recorder, but the seller wants to sell it as soon as possible, so Gaspard needs to leave town immediately to buy it. Instead of the love of a woman, he takes his fourth option, his real love: music.
  • Eating Breakfast Alone: Gaspard, which is how waitress Margot first meets him.
  • Ethical Slut: Solène, who by her own admission Really Gets Around, makes out with Gaspard but stops, telling him she doesn't sleep with men on a first date because she has principles.
  • Extreme Doormat: How Gaspard behaves with Solène.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Gaspard (Choleric), Margot (Melancholic), Solène (Sanguine), Léna (Phlegmatic).
  • Girlfriend in Canada: Margot (and the audience) suspects Gaspard might be making up his relationship with Léna, since she never seems to show up and he makes a Hurricane of Excuses to explain why. Just when he was ready to give up on her, she arrives.
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Blonde volleyball player Léna is Light, brunette party girl Solène is Dark.
  • Love Confession: Silent and oblique— Margot lets her goodbye kiss to Gaspard at the end turn passionate.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Besides Gaspard and the trio of women, the women also all admit to having other love interests.
  • Meaningful Name: Margot, a name from the Hugues Aufray song "Santiano", which ends up playing over the end of the film.
    Je pars pour de longs mois en lassant Margot ("I'll be gone for months, leaving Margot")
  • Pirate Girl: The song "Fille de corsaire" is sung from the POV of one.
  • The Quiet One: Gaspard is one of the most realistic film portrayals of an introvert. He values his time alone, hates crowds, but is comfortable with one-on-one social interaction.
  • Relationship Revolving Door: Gaspard and Léna go from hot to cold to hot quickly.
  • Shipper on Deck: Margot talks Gaspard into starting a relationship with Solène.
  • Shout-Out: When Margot and Gaspard see Solidor Tower in the distance, Gaspard mentions Suzy Solidor, a popular French singer of the 1930s.