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  • Eric Rohmer's announced last film, The Romance of Astrea and Céladon, is a costumed period piece based on a 1610 novel by Honoré d'Urfé that imagines what life was like in Fifth century Gaul. It is a work of sublime physical beauty and surprising eroticism that looks both backwards and forwards in time. While it appears to be a look back at a naive and outdated way of life, it may indeed be the opposite - Rohmer's final rebuke of the spiritual emptiness of the modern world, and a preview of a new world struggling to be born. This strange dichotomy is implied by the unusual preface in which a voice announces that the story had to be moved from the Forez plain, "now disfigured by urban blight and conifer plantations, to another part of France whose scenery has retained its wild poetry and bucolic charm." Rohmer transports the viewer to a world of idyllic streams and forests where shepherds dress in the tunics of the Seventeenth century. Celadon (Andy Gillet), a young man of noble birth has chosen the simple life of a shepherd and is deeply in love with Astrea (Stephanie Crayencour), a shepherdess of more modest family lineage. Though the film in lesser hands might have seemed a bit silly, Rohmer's straightforward direction reveals an emotional truth often obscured by modern cinematic techniques of fast cuts, hand-held camera-work, and curse words that are supposed to enhance "realism.

    At a family gathering, Céladon pretends to be infatuated with Amynthe (Priscilla Galland) to mollify his and Astrea's parents who are bickering, but when Astrea sees him kiss the other woman, she is racked by jealousy and orders Celadon to stay away from her forever "unless I bid you otherwise". In despair, Céladon says "I'll drown myself, at once" and proceeds to jump into the river – at once, but is rescued before drowning by the nymph Galathea (Veronique Reymond) who brings him to her castle and, with the support of two other nymphs, nurses him back to health.

    When Galathea discovers how attractive he is, however, she wants Céladon for her own pleasure and forbids him to leave the castle but, in the film's first instance of cross-dressing (a notorious Shakespearean plot device), he is smuggled out by another nymph, Leonide (Cecile Cassel) and hides out in the woods. Astrea believes Céladon to be dead and with some regret, forgives him and loves him more than ever, though Céladon refuses to see her out of respect for her word. He begins to rethink his position, however, after being visited by a druid priest (Serge Renko) who hatches a secret scheme to reunite the two lovers.

    The Romance of Astrea and Céladon is filled with a lightness that is absent from Rohmer's more talky Six Moral Tales and later films in which the characters pontificate at length on the ins and outs of romantic love. His philosophical (and Catholic) bent surfaces, however, in a scene in which Hylas (Rodolphe Pauly), a jester, who is regarded with complete disdain by others, berates the follies of indiscriminate sexuality while Lycidas (Jocelyn Quivrin) promotes love as an ideal that merges two souls into one and the film's robust final sequence demonstrates the extremes one may go to for love.

    In The Romance of Astrea and Céladon, Rohmer, now in his 87th year, promotes the ideals of commitment, the integrity of one's word, and the poetry of romantic love without its modern day clatter. While these ideals may not seem terribly exciting (one film critic wrote that, "maybe humankind ditched romantic fidelity because it isn't exciting!"), they act to ground us in our noblest aspirations, to remind us of what it means to be human, a task that, in his six decades of film-making, Rohmer has exquisitely accomplished and which The Romance of Astrea and Céladon places a final exclamation point.
  • michael-schwartz-211 September 2008
    I love Rohmer's films - about people in love who talk too much about being in love - but wasn't sure how I'd take this one. Not to worry. It's the distilled essence of the other films, an abstraction of them. The characters in those films are always less deep than they believe. Part of the pleasure is seeing them brought back to normal humanity. Here the characters start out shallow and stay there. The lovers are lovers and nothing more. Their love is a given. The complications are perfunctory, as is the resolution. In the middle of this shallowness, Rohmer gives us a philosophical conversation that is basically about the Trinity (Druid-style, to be sure) and the oneness of the multiple gods, and another conversation about the oneness of lovers. And then the resolution has Celadon becoming Astrea and then Astrea and Celadon becoming one, so the shallow story becomes a reflection of divinity.

    I loved the pastoral setting. The countryside is beautiful - flowers in almost every shot - without having its beauty forced on you. The sound is live and dense - human conversation embedded in the natural noise of water and birds. Yet the characters, especially the nymphs, felt something like Rohmer's modern Parisians without seeming alien from their setting. It's a masterful touch.

    This is not my favorite Rohmer, of course. But it's a wonderful way for him to sum up his career and to say au revoir or even adieu.
  • Eighty-seven now, the indefatigable Rohmer still explores his obsession with young lovers. In this his declared swan song, he follows the theme via the pastoral romance of Honoré d'Urfé, penned in seventeenth-century France and set in the Forez plain in fifth-century Gaul. This is a classic star-crossed lovers tale with a happy ending that involves some cross-dressing by the pretty Celadon (Andy Gillet). He thinks his girlfriend Astrea (Stephanie Crayencour) has forbidden him to come into her sight, so he poses as the daughter of a high-born Druid priest. Though too tall, as cross-dressers often are, the striking Gillet is certainly beautiful enough to pose as a girl (Crayencour, though appealing, can hardly compete for looks—till she bares a breast, one area where Andy can't compete). When Celadon, as a "she," gets so friendly with Astrea they start kissing passionately early one morning in front of some other girls, there's some titillating gender-bending going on that gives this otherwise odd and dry piece some contemporary interest.

    As opening texts explain, the film was made in another region because the Forez plain is "urbanized" and otherwise ruined today. The mostly young cast wears costumes designed to evoke the seventeenth-century conception of what d'Urfe's antique (and largely mythical) shepherds and priests wore. Just as Rohmer's contemporary young lovers in his "Moral Tales" have little to distract them from their flirtations and love-debates, d'Urfé's characters are those of an ancient pastoral tradition who never get their hands dirty and spend their times in quiet, paintable pursuits like dancing, singing, or frolicking in the grass discussing the ideals of courtly love. Rohmer uses this idealized world as a more detached version of his usual emotional landscape. However, this film is more similar to the artificial and somehow un-Rohmer-esquire late efforts 'The Lady and the Duke' and 'Triple Agent' than to his really charming and characteristic work.

    In the beginning of the story, the lovers have apparently had a spat. Celadon allows Astrea to see him dancing and flirting with another girl at a dance. Later he insists it was only a "pretense," but Astrea jumps to the conclusion her boyfriend is a philanderer and is so angry she banishes him forever from her sight. His reaction is to throw himself into the river. While Astrea and her girlfriends go looking, he's washed up on shore at some distance, nearly drowned. He's rescued and nurtured back to waking health by an upper-class nymph (Veronique Reymond) who lives in a (presumably seventeenth-century) castle.

    A druid priest (Serge Renko) and his niece Leonide (Cecile Cassel) supervise Celadon after he flees from the nymph's clutches. He pouts in a kind of pastoral tepee for a while, and then is persuaded to put on women's clothes so he can be close to his beloved. One wonders if Rohmer hadn't lost control of the casting when we see the over-acting, annoying Rodolphe Pauly as Hylas, a troubadour who opposes the prevailing platonic tradition in favor of free love with multiple partners. Pauly completely breaks the heightened, elegant tone and introduces an amateurish note, which is the more dangerous since the simplicity of the outdoor shooting already risks evoking some French YouTube skit. Things liven up considerably when Celadon is in drag, but by that time Rohmer will have lost the sympathy of many viewers.

    Adapting seventeenth-century pastoral tales to the screen may be a far-fetched enterprise at best, but there must be better methods than this. Paradoxically, though the pastoral ideal is about purity and simplicity, recapturing it is likely to require more elaborate methods than this. The Sofia Coppola of 'Marie Antoinette' might have managed it—and that film does have a pastoral interlude, though not "pure" pastoral but aristocrats camping it up as shepherds and shepherdesses. Rohmer's bare-bones methods worked well for most of his career because the people and their conversations were interesting enough in themselves; the intensity of his own interest made them so. Such methods don't work so well here. The talk in 'The Romance of Astrea and Celadon' is too stilted and dry most of the way to hold much interest. For dyed-in-the-wool Rohmer fans, of course, this mature work is nonetheless required viewing. Newcomers as usual had best go back to 'My Night at Maude's' and 'Claire's Knee' to understand the perennial interest of this quintessentially French filmmaker.
  • allenrogerj12 September 2008
    Rohmer has made great films so if he makes a strange or apparently bad film it's wiser to check if it's our expectations that are at fault, not the film. Celadon & Astrae is an odd film and I don't think it's a great film, but I don't think it's a bad one. It has conventions- as all films do- but they aren't conventional conventions so it takes time to adjust to them but it is worth adjusting and accepting the preposterous plot, the formal archaic language and the absurd psychology. There's actually a very Rohmeric film here with beautiful fluid filming and a Rohmeric concern with morality and the actors aren't trapped by the conventions they must act in: Astrea and Celadon's sorrows and joys may be conventional and absurd objectively but they are still moving and the debates are absurd in form but relevant in subject.
  • I had a bad time with the last medieval-set film from Eric Rohmer, Perceval le Gallois, generally because it was shot on sets and I found Fabrice Luchini as Perceval incredibly annoying. Having an interest in the literature of the time I was uncomfortable with the portrayal.

    So I came to this one with misgivings, but fortunately it allowed some of the source material to breathe. The film is based on a 17th century novel called L'Astrée by Honoré d'Urfé. It is set in 5th Century France and is a romantic fantasy of the times. It seems that all characters are either shepherds, shepherdesses, nymphs or druids. I feel that Rohmer's style is quite inflexible, he shot this movie in squarish 4:3, as usual, whereas I felt the languor of the material, the playful Arcadian tone, the respect for the landscape (that Rohmer professes at the start of the film) required a more horizontal treatment of 2.35:1. Full-screen is what Rohmer typically uses and is good for his conversational films, or portraiture if you will. Here the material begs for something different, think for example of the British romantic painters William Etty and Lord Leighton, of Leighton's The Daphnephoria, Etty's The World Before The Flood, long sensual paintings. Rohmer does however try his best to find scenes that look best under 4:3, for example when Astrea takes her flock to high pasture up a steep meadow, there's no other way the scene should be filmed, it's more a case of Rohmer fitting the world to his aspect ratio though. I think that what works best for Rohmer in nearly all of his other films was a weakness here, the spartan conversational style.

    Celadon is a prince who has decided to live as a shepherd, having presciently followed Voltaire's advice that working the land is the key to happiness. He is loved by Astrea, a shepherdess. A tragic miscommunication between the two leads to their separation and peregrinations. Along the way we are treated to the usual Rohmerian banter about how love can't be forced, elective affinities, and the rationalisations and sophistries of love that each of the characters own. The main chat is between Hylas and Lycidas. Hylas is the equivalent of the bumble bee, he believes that men are meant to flit like bees from flower to flower, he is a joyful larger-than-life character. Lycidas on the other hand believes in monogamous love (with his beloved Phillis), a fusion of souls and both openly scorn the other, though Lycidas comes off as dour. I'm not convinced the philosophical material is a move forward from his earlier movies such as Pauline a la Plage, but it certainly is presented here with enough charm.

    The source material is well over 5000 pages long and obviously here we have a massive condensation. You can sense this quite often, for example when Celadon contemplates a painting of Psyche dripping hot wax on the sleeping Cupid. The painting is loaded with context, it's describing a scene from Apuleius' The Golden Ass, the only fully-surviving Latin novel, the whole episode is a rich and dense allegory regarding Platonism and different types of love, it's just skipped over here.

    The movie definitely is a pleasure to watch for me, despite the extravagance that the tale yearns to be told with, and which is barely present here. I don't think there is any director alive, or any budget that would see full justice done to the story, I think Rohmer succeeded as much as can be expected.
  • French film "Les Amours D'Astrée Et De Céladon" is absolutely Rohmerian in essence but still relatively easy to follow.It is probably one of the simplest films made by French new wave master Eric Rohmer.Apart from entertaining die hard art cinema admirers,this is a film which would be of great use to students of French language and literature as it makes effective use of simple French language for its lively dialogs full of charm and wit.Eric Rohmer has also created a marvelous feast for eyes as the portrayal of ancient times is artistic,innovative and remarkably honest.One has to appreciate that Rohmer's choice of young actors is brilliant especially Andy Gillet and Stéphanie Crayencour who add an endearing touch to their magnanimous depiction of truthful lovers Céladon and Astrée.Although there is no hint of any kind of inherent eroticism,those who can read between the lines can decipher that this ancient love story is erotic purely out of its own accord. Les amours d'Astrée et de Céladon/The loves of Astrée and of Celadon is a true love story which must be seen by anyone who has ever fallen in love.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It's been said several times - not least by me - that watching an Eric Rohmer film is like watching paint dry; it seems that Monsieur Rohmer resents this (he doesn't deny it, but then how could he, he just resents it) so much so that his new movie, which may also be his last, Inch Allah, is set so far back in time that it's like watching woad dry. Those wonderful people who gave you the Nouvelle Vague, Cahiers du Cinema have already named it one of the best films of 2007 so that should give you some idea. Reality is not high on Rohmer's agenda so that in 5th Century France we have at one extreme a château that would not be out of place in the Loire valley whilst the only other dwelling we see is a rude wooden hut. The story involves nymphs and shepherds and as he often does Rohmer has cast it with unknowns who just happened to be passing so that the overall effect is that the annual class play at a school for Special Needs pupils was captured on film by accident. One is almost tempted to say 'Come back Godard, all is forgiven' but even this woeful production can't make me utter those words.
  • parsnip13136 October 2007
    Canadians are too polite to boo but the audience at the Toronto Film Festival left the theater muttering that they would rate this film 0 or 1 on their voting sheets. The premise is that a modern filmmaker is interpreting a 17th century fable about the loves of shepherds and shepherdesses set in the distant past when Druids were the spiritual leaders. Working in three epochs presents many opportunities to introduce anachronisms including silly and impractical clothing and peculiar spiritual rites that involve really bad poetry. Lovers are divided by jealousy and their rigid adherence to idiotic codes of conduct from which cross-dressing and assorted farcical situations arise. The film could have been hilarious as a Monty Python piece, which it too closely resembles, but Rohmer's effort falls very flat. The audience laughed at the sight jokes but otherwise bemoaned the slow pace. The ending comes all in a rush and is truly awful. This is a trivial film and a waste of your movie going time.
  • Apparently Astrea and Celadon are in love but cannot publicly display it since their families hate each other. So, Celadon pretends to love another--and ultimately Astrea incorrectly assumes he is being unfaithful to her. So what does this knucklehead do? He tosses himself into the river when she confronts him and tells him never to talk to her again. She naturally assumes he drowned in the river and sulks through most of the film. However, and this is really odd, he does not reveal to her that he's alive--after all, she DID tell him never to speak to her again AND he was the perfect lover and could not violate this command. So, to get around this command, later he is introduced to her as the druid priest's daughter--and she/he and Astrea become close friends and confidantes.

    I understand that director Eric Rohmer is a beloved New Wave director and I understand that the reviews for his final film, "The Romance of Astrea and Celadon", are mostly very positive here on IMDb. However, despite knowing I SHOULD love his work and this film, try as I might, I just don't get this adoration. Sure, I have enjoyed a few of Rohmer's films but by and large, I just can't help but feel perplexed by his fans. And, of all the films of Rohmer's I have seen, I think that, to me, "The Romance of Astrea and Celadon" is perhaps the least enjoyable. The plot made little sense, the plot device of having Celadon dress as a woman made even less sense and the film just seemed incredibly talky and dull. If this is about what true love is supposed to be about, then I guess I know absolutely nothing about love---I just thought Celedon was a bit of a yutz and his actions seemed less like the ideal lover and more like a complete fool.

    So was there anything I liked about the film? The cinematography was nice and the director did create an amazingly beautiful and sensual picture. But the plot made no sense, the story quite slow and the film bored me to tears. I just don't seem to see in this film what everyone else sees.
  • bigverybadtom26 March 2017
    Warning: Spoilers
    This movie is based on a 1610 French novel which takes place in fifth-century Gaul. The story is about the title lovers, children of two feuding families, and at a festival, Celadon tries to hide the romance by pretending to be in love with another girl. Though it was for show, Astrea assumes Celadon's infidelity was genuine and tells him she never wants to see him again, though he threatens to drown himself...and jumps into the river to do so.

    This causes distress to both the villagers, especially Astrea...but they are unaware that he had been rescued by three nymphs who take him to their castle. One nymph wants Celadon for himself, but another manages to smuggle him out and have him live in the forest, with her druid father coming to help him. But Celadon won't go home because Astrea ordered her not to see him. The rest of the movie revolves around getting Astrea and Celadon back together, which is much more time-consuming than it should be.

    The movie is full of elements that hardly evoke what fifth-century Gaul must have been like, including a castle and garden that must have dated from at least a millennium later, overly-refined statuary and writing and such, and the discussions of love and religion have little relevance to the overall story. Worst of all, however, is that the two lovers could have gotten back together without having had to resort to all the rigmarole-hence my review title.
  • I was aware of Rohmer's admiration for the late works of the ones he considered like great cineasts, and that normal spectators generally considered as artistic failures (as Renoir's or Chaplin's very last movies ; yes, the "politique des auteurs" also has its dark side). But with "Les amours d'Astrée et de Céladon", it's as if Rohmer himself wanted, for what may be his last movie, to perpetuate this tradition of great directors, who made a last senile movie, by adapting Urfé's "L'astrée", with ridiculous aesthetic codes, witch just look like a parody of Rosselini's last movies (the ones he made for TV from Descartes or Marx's lives).

    In his version of "Perceval", Rohmer refused to film real landscapes in order to give a re-transcription of what may have been a middle age classical representation of things. The director apparently changed his mind when the XVII century is involved, and films actors, dressed like 1600's peasants reciting their antic text surrounded by contemporary trees and landscapes. But the all thing looks even more ridiculous than Luchini and its fake trees. It's not that the story itself is stupid, but the way Rohmer mixes naturalism with artifices seems so childish and amateurism that it rapidly becomes involuntarily funny (and I'm not even talking about the irritating pronunciation of the actors, the annoying and sad humorist tries by Rodolphe Pauly, the ridiculous soft-erotic tone, the poor musical tentatives, or the strange fascination for trasvestisment!).

    The radical aesthetic of the film ultimately makes it looks like a joke, which mixes a soft-erotic movie made for TV with theological scholastic discussions (sic !). At the beginning of the movie, Rohmer teaches us that the original french region of the story is now disfigured by modernity, and that's why he had to film "L'Astrée" in other parts of the country. However, I'm sure the movie would have look more modern and interesting, if Rohmer would have actually still filmed the same story in a modern area with same narrative codes and artistically decisions. This film may interest a few historians, but most of the cinephiles may laugh at this last and sad Rohmer's movie.
  • I saw you kiss her. Get out of my sight. I shall kill myself. Come back! How shallow can two people be? This is basically the opening of this film, which is beautiful in it's setting, but weak in story.

    Enter some nymphs to rescue him. Nymphs? The chief nymph Galathée (Véronique Reymond) wants to keep him for herself. Meanwhile Astrée (Stéphanie Crayencour) is wallowing in self pity, believing Céladon (Andy Gillet) dead.

    The nymph Léonide (Cécile Cassel) dresses Céladon as a girl to sneak away. But efforts to get him to return to Astrée prove futile until a Druid convinces him to dress as a girl and be near her. She discovers his ruse after they engage in passionate kissing. A closeted lesbian perhaps? It was a gorgeous film, as I said, but the story was a little silly.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This was Eric Rohmer's last movie, which he made in 2007 at 87 (he would die three years later). He decided to close his distinguished career by filming a famous French pastoral novel of the 1600s, considered unfilmable by those who have read it. Rohmer, who before becoming a director was a professor of French Literature, has always been one of the most literary of all directors. The action takes place in an anachronistic, fantastic Gaul among a rural community of shepherds. The silly, absurd plot (which is never played for laughs) has the shepherd Celadon fled the village after his love Astrea suspects him of "making merry" with another shepherdess during a party there. Astrea is led to believe that he drowned in the river while fleeing, and she mourns him madly, but he has actually been rescued by a community of nymphs, who live in a renaissance-style castle and whose leader is mad with Celadon and doesn't let him leave the place (in the film, every woman is madly in love with Celadon). One of the nymphs eventually gets the head druid involved (who sputters platitudes and new age like nonsense and is played by Serge Renko, who was the Soviet spy in Triple Agent - Rohmer's previous, great film, sadly little known). Not very profound, and a bit of a gimmick, this bucolic, languid film is pleasant to watch. The young, little known beautiful actors, who always say their lines in perfectly enunciated French, help.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Raymond Radiguet concluded his novel "Count d' Orgel's Ball" in a masterly manner with the count's terrible phrase: And now, sleep, Mahaut, I want it so - mesmerizing his love into blackmail.

    What this has to do with Rohmer's pastoral romance? Its histrionics could not be more far than Rohmer's world. I take it as a perfect contrast to the film's end: young Astree cheerfully chirps to the exposed, from his previous cross-dressed role as a druid's sick daughter, Celadon: Vives! Vives! Je te le commande! which translates into something like: Live! Live! I order you so!

    This "into something like" has its own whimsical twist that makes me wonder about the extent of Rohmer's deliberate irony (and mine): Astree, or rather the actress portraying her, seems to me the more naive of the whole cast, and the more debatable on technical skills. I mean the troubadour, or rather a mockery of this, with his shrill voice, does not offend me as over-the-top in his performance, although he is a bit obvious. He is there for, in a way, us throwing darts to him. Perhaps Rohmer's mockery turned a bit harsh on him; one wonders if this was the case for Astree. It makes me think of Kubrick's sly choices of leading men in his films: the actors' public image as exemplary cases of somewhat ridiculous virility, in Kubrick's hands turned into the films' advantage.

    Of course this sadistic strain does not occur in Rohmer, far from it. So, why do I mention this? Here comes the punchline: because Astree's articulation is so blurred, her acting so bad and fresh, that the first time I heard the film's final sentence I thought, astonished and confused, that she was saying "Je telecommande!" that is, literally, "I TV order".

    Was this Rohmer's last word? For even if I cannot argue that wordplay is something he pursued in his films

    (although the early short "The Monceau bakery girl" features the amorous homonymy "ca me dit/samedi" in the flirting exchange "Ca vous dit?" "Oui, ca me dit." "Sortons donc Samedi." which means "It sounds okay?" "Yes, it sounds okay." "So let's go out on Saturday."),

    I cannot claim either that this was something he overlooked. The film in its simplicity, exemplifies an amazing level of sophistication. For to achieve such illusory simplicity, that also dares to play with our allusions of a soft-porn sensibility, or mock-philosophy (listen how the druid's discourse on trinity has the volume turned down a little, as a soft pedal occurred), well, it warrants a master's touch.

    I am left amused, or rather bemused, than perplexed. It is as if this doesn't actually matter, and one wouldn't want it otherwise, mesmerized away from TV, into somewhat more difficult pleasures posing as, and with pastoral simplicity; it all is spiritually uplifting.

    I will soon revisit - and live! - this little quick-silvery film.