A Tale of Winter (Big World, DVD), the second film in French filmmaker Eric Rohmer’s “Tales of the Four Seasons” cycle from the 1990s, is not the chilly story its title would suggest. Felice (Charlotte Very) is a single mother with two lovers but feels little passion for either of them and Felice knows passion. In the opening scene she frolics with youthful abandon with Charles (Frederic Van Dren Driessche), an American she falls for on holiday. Through a careless mistake—she gives him her wrong address and doesn’t have his—they never reconnect despite her best efforts, but his presence continues to permeate her life as she raises their child. The sunny warmth of carefree youth and emotional ecstasy of the opening turns to the cool colors of winter as Felice tries to make the best of it by choosing one of her lovers but, in the best tradition of willful Rohmer women, she discovers she simply cannot settle for second best.
Rohmer makes small, intimate films about the foibles of people in love, both young and not-so-young, with both wit and compassion. This is one of his most compassionate and understanding. Felice is a delightfully contradictory character, lively under her somber front, headstrong and petulant, indecisive and flighty, dedicated to her search for true love, and Very invests Felice with a spark that enlivens her even at her most exasperating. That spark lights up in one of the most emotionally magical and compassionate endings in all of Rohmer’s films. It makes its DVD debut after getting a brief theatrical rerelease in the U.S. In French with English subtitles; they are electronic but unremovable.
Also on VOD and digital purchase (HD and SD versions) from iTunes and Vudu.