Le Rayon Vert

Eric Rohmer's 1986 masterpiece Le Rayon Vert (aka The Green Ray) delivers an absorbing, empathic portrait of a complex woman caught between her own obstinacy and melancholy. That single woman is Delphine, a Paris secretary played by Marie Rivière. (She also stars in Rohmer's 1987 Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle, also screening through Thursday.) Her wavering summer vacation plans take her from Cherbourg to the Alps to Biarritz. "I'm not stubborn. Life is stubborn toward me," says headstrong Delphine , but she's much more self-aware and vulnerable than she lets on. She is lonely and sad, but not self-pitying. Though her defenses are up, she isn't immune to the power of magic. Objects or events with talismanic significance occur throughout the film, most importantly, overheard conversations. On her second day in Biarritz, she eavesdrops on a group of gray hairs discussing the 1882 Jules Verne novel that gives the film its name, itself a reference to the optical phenomenon that occurs right after sunset. "When you see the green ray, you can read your own feelings and those of the people you're with," one elder says. Something seems to shift or loosen in Delphine after she hears this. She begins to open up to the possibility of getting lost in adventure—of taking, perhaps, a vacation from herself. Call for showtimes. (NR) MELISSA ANDERSON

Nov. 4-10, 2011

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