“I’m not normal, like you.”
Summer (Le Rayon Vert) from French director Eric Rohmer’s Comedies and Proverbs series is basically a ‘boy meets girl story’. The plot is centered on Delphine (Marie Riviere), a Parisian woman who finds herself alone for her annual holiday. Delphine attempts to salvage her holiday by solitary sorties to several locations. In Biarritz, she meets a Swedish woman whose confidence and predatory behavior serves only to undermine Delphine’s confidence even further.
Summer is a character study of a single woman’s voyage through urban loneliness, and in true Rohmer tradition, the action is dialogue driven. Many of Rohmer’s films include some reference to the Parisian annual holiday, but in this film, the plot never strays from the idea of the annual exodus from Paris. Herein lies Delphine’s dilemma–she doesn’t want to be alone, but she doesn’t exactly glow when she’s around other people. When surrounded by others who attempt to make Delphine feel comfortable, her behaviour alienates them and ultimately isolates her. She’s idealistic, and that makes her interesting, and she clearly doesn’t fit in with the more social groups she constantly mingles with. However, Delphine’s tendency to whininess and constant crying detracts from the film. Rohmer films often concern an admirable character who is troubled in some way. In Summer, Delphine as a central character is too weak to bolster the entire film. There are psychological depths to her behaviour that are unexplored, and the film remains less substantial than many other Rohmer films.