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Film / The Green Ray

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The Green Ray (French: Le Rayon vert) is a 1986 drama directed by Éric Rohmer. It's the fifth film of the Comedies and Proverbs Thematic Series.

Parisian secretary Delphine (Marie Rivière) isn't looking forward to her summer vacation. She's broken up with her boyfriend, and her planned trip to Greece is halted when her friend calls to say she's going there with someone else. Over the next few weeks, Delphine travels to different parts of France, both alone and with companions, and realizes that she's becoming detached from friends, family, and even strangers. She's not comfortable with the superficial small talk and conventions of social life, and even feels out-of-place alone in nature, even though she desperately wants to make connections. But, remembering a medium's prediction that green was going to be her "color of the year", she keeps noticing random occurrences of the color on her travels, and even overhears a conversation about the rare phenomenon of a visible ray of green light that can be seen right before the sun sinks below the horizon at sunset. Could green really be the "color of hope" for her?


This was a major departure for Rohmer, as he did not write a full script, but concocted a storyline, then had his cast (including many of his regular actors) improvise the dialogue. The result was one of his most acclaimed films.

This film contains examples of:

  • Ambiguous Disorder: Delphine seems like she might be suffering from depression, but it's never confirmed.
  • Author Appeal: Rohmer was a big fan of Jules Verne in his youth, which inspired the Shout-Out to him in this film.
  • Call-Back: The story is broken into daily episodes, introduced by a handwritten note telling the date, just like Claire's Knee (Béatrice Romand appears in both films).
  • Cerebus Syndrome: A much more melancholy, dramatic film than the earlier Comedies and Proverbs installments.
  • Color Motif: Green, which is an important part of the story, as invoked by Delphine herself. Even the handwritten dates between scenes are done in green ink.
  • Advertisement:
  • The Eeyore: Delphine moves toward becoming one as the story goes on.
  • Epigraph: As part of Rohmer's Comedies and Proverbs series, the proverb at the start of this film is a quote from Arthur Rimbaud: Ah! que le temps vienne où les cœurs s'éprennent ("Oh! May the time come when hearts fall in love").
  • Gratuitous English: Lena and Joel banter back-and-forth a bit in fairly good basic English.
  • Happy Ending: Delphine sees the green ray and seemingly has found love with Jacques.
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Moody, dark-haired Delphine and blonde, bubbly Lena make an odd pair as they hang out together.
  • Meat Versus Veggies: When Delphine eats dinner with Françoise and her family, they serve pork chops, but Delphine informs them that she's a vegetarian, because she prefers how "airy" vegetables are.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Lena, the Scandinavian beauty who befriends Delphine on the beach in Biarritz, is topless in her first scene.
  • Random Events Plot: Even for a Rohmer film, the structure here is very episodic, mostly following Delphine's travels.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Delphine overhears a conversation about Jules Verne and his novel The Green Ray. The film roughly follows the novel's storyline, and when the women discuss the novel's plot, it turns into a Leaning on the Fourth Wall moment.
    • Delphine is reading The Idiot in the train station when she meets Jacques.