Rohmer in Paris

We have only begun to scratch the surface of the possibilities of audiovisual film commentary and criticism. The genre holds much more promise than just some variations on classic documentary or reportage techniques. Why not use narrative strategies from fiction films in a critical context?


A case in point is Richard Misek‘s passionate essay film Rohmer in Paris. This ode to Nouvelle Vague director Eric Rohmer is an innovative and inventive mix of various modes: biography, documentary, even speculative fiction and remix. The movie consists almost entirely out of footage sourced from Rohmer’s movies. (Even a scene summarizing the French auteur’s life story is illustrated with shots from his films, suggesting an autobiographical element).


Misek delves into the relationship Rohmer had with France’s capital. He does this by roving through Rohmer’s filmography in the same way the Parisians leisurely stroll across the nineteenth century sidewalks of their city: relaxed, observant, and open to serendipity. It’s a very personal exploration: Richard Misek and his history with Rohmer steer the path on this promenade through Paris. In a way, Rohmer sets the scene and Misek becomes a character in the French director’s fictional universe.


In the essay film, Richard Misek finds the ideal form to reflect not only on cinema, but on his own cinephilia as well. ‘Cinephilia is perverse. It’s a one way love,’ Misek mentions in this movie. But his Rohmer in Paris is a love letter written with the very images of the French filmmaker he fell in love with. In repurposing those shots and scenes, he finds a way to make this a two-way-love: the images Rohmer used to seduce the viewer, are the same Misek uses to profess his love.