Suzanne's Career (La Carrière de Suzanne) [DVD]
Director : Eric Rohmer
Screenplay : Eric Rohmer
MPAA Rating : NR
Year of Release : 1963
Stars : Catherine Sée (Suzanne), Philippe Beuzen (Bertrand), Christian Charrière (Guillaume), Diane Wilkinson (Sophie)
Suzanne’s Career (La Carrière de Suzanne) is a tight, brief excursion into dawning self-awareness. The main character is a college student named Bertrand (Philippe Beuzen) who, like all college students, thinks he knows himself and others much better than he does. His best friend is another student, Guillaume (Christian Charrière), who is more aggressive and extroverted and, as a result, is much more successful with women.
Although he is fully aware of it, Bertrand constantly allows Guillaume to manipulate him, especially in his attempts to seduce women. Bertrand does this because he looks up to his friend, although, ironically, he is generally disapproving of the kind of women Guillaume seduces. Since Bertrand idolizes Guillaume, no one is ever good enough for him.
In the film’s first scene, Bertrand and Guillaume meet Suzanne (Catherine Sée), a rather plain girl who Bertrand immediately dismisses. Guillaume, however, sets his sights on her. But, once he has conquered her, he loses interest, which only spurs Suzanne’s. This sets up an uneasy triangle in which Suzanne begins to flirt with Bertrand and ask him out, with the goal being to make Guillaume jealous. So, once again, Bertrand is allowing himself to be manipulated, but with the delusion that he is somehow above it all.
As the second of Eric Rohmer’s “Moral Tales,” Suzanne’s Career intensifies and expands on many of the themes he established in The Bakery Girl of Monceau (La Boulangère de Monceau), a short film he wrote and directed the year before. Like that film, Suzanne’s Career was shot in grainy 16mm on the streets of Paris and stars a handful of youthful unknowns whose naturalism is reflected and reified in Rohmer’s classical invisible style (he seems more assured here, without any of the distracting aesthetic flourishes that sometimes marred Bakery Girl). The story also features a self-centered male protagonist who is torn, although, unlike Barbet Schroeder’s character in Bakery Girl, Bertrand is torn in more ways than one. Not only is he torn between his simultaneous idolizing and disgust for Guillaume, but he is also pulled between Suzanne and Sophie (Diane Wilkinson), a more traditionally “beautiful” girl after whom he pines.
The heart of the story is in how badly people can treat each other, and we are witness to Bertrand and Guillaume exploiting Suzanne in almost every conceivable way, at one point willfully trying to run her out of money by allowing her to pay for everything. There is something sad and even slightly pathetic about Suzanne, but this is part of Rohmer’s plot, as he allows her to emerge victorious in the end, leaving the boyish Bertrand and Guillaume with little more than the realization that they are infinitely more adolescent than they thought.
|Suzanne’s Career Criterion Collection DVD|
|Suzanne’s Career is available exclusively as part of the Criterion Collection’s six-disc box set “Eric Rohmer’s Six Moral Tales,” which also includes The Bakery Girl of Monceau , La Collectionneuse, My Night at Maud’s, Claire’s Knee, and Love in the Afternoon. In addition to supplements on each disc, the box set includes a paperback of the original stories by Eric Rohmer, as well as an insert booklet featuring Rohmer’s landmark essay “For a Talking Cinema,” excerpts from cinematographer Nestor Almendros’s autobiography, and new essays by Geoff Andrew, Ginette Vincendeau, Phillip Lopate, Kent Jones, Molly Haskell, and Armond White.|
|Audio||French Dolby Digital 1.0 Monaural|
|Supplements||Rohmer’s short film Nadja in Paris (1964)|
|Distributor||The Criterion Collection|
|SRP||$99.95 (box set)|
|Release Date||August 15, 2006|
|VIDEO & AUDIO|
|The new high-definition transfer of Suzanne’s Career was taken from a 35mm duplicate negative. It was supervised and approved by director Eric Rohmer. Because the transfer was made from a 35mm duplicate negative, which means it was blown-up from the original 16mm, some of the grain and imperfections of the original medium have been exaggerated, giving the image a somewhat soft look. There isn’t much contrast in the image, which tends to wash out the finer details. The image is generally clean, as the MTI Digital Restoration System was used to remove dirt and debris. If the overall quality of the image seems somewhat lacking when compared to most of Criterion’s efforts, it is most likely because of the condition of the elements and the quality of the stock used to shoot the film, and it is still far superior to the previously available disc from Fox/Lorber. Like all the films in this box set, Suzanne’s Career is windowboxed. The original monaural soundtrack, which sounds clean and clear, was mastered at 24-bit from the optical soundtrack negative.|
|The only supplement included on this disc is Eric Rohmer’s 1964 short film Nadja in Paris (Nadja à Paris), which marked his first collaboration with cinematographer Nestor Almendros, with whom he would work on nine more films, including the final four “Moral Tales.”|
Copyright ©2006 James Kendrick
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