‘Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle’ or — Judge Dread?

Do you love adventure? Are you ready for that adventure? Are you ready for FOUR adventures packed into one? Well fuck you sensation seekers because this is Eric Rohmer-land we’re in here where the most exciting thing that could possibly happen is two people bump into each other wearing clothes with uncomplimentary colours.

‘Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle’ (1987). So what’s the explosive haps in this ‘adventure’ movie? It’s about two young women, Reinette and Mirabelle, who meet one day and quickly become friends. Mirabelle is a university student living in Paris and Reinette lives in the country and is an aspiring, self-taught artist. Back in Paris they move in together and encounter various types of various people who trigger off conflicting philosophies in the girls, all played out over four distinct chapters. This might sound a little underwhelming and low-key but this is Rohmer we’re dealing with here folks so hold onto your hats and get a load of this high-octane insanity -

Adventure 1/ The Blue Hour — Mirabelle’s bicycle gets a puncture and she has a little trouble repairing it. Mirabelle and Reinette get up early and then eat some strawberries. I know, its breathless stuff but pace yourself as we’ve only got going.

Adventure 2/ The Waiter — The adrenaline rush continues as Reinette goes to a cafe and buys a coffee but the waiter doesn’t have enough change for the large note she gives him. This white-knuckle ride only increases when Mirabelle turns up and the waiter can’t change her even larger note either. BAM and POW! But everyone dust yourself off as Rohmer’s just got going and is flooring the excitement pedal to the exhilaration metal from here on.

Adventure 3/ The Beggar, the Kleptomaniac and the Hustler — Mirabelle, who is now looking for even greater thrills and obviously unsatisfied the with hedonistic life they’ve been living until now, goes shopping where she sees a woman stealing some canned duck whilst Reinette is trying to find money for a pay-phone when…

And I’m going to stop there and for several reasons mainly because, as with nearly all Rohmer, after an hour or so of not being able to figure out if I find his movies mind-numbingly boring or not everything starts coming together. I’ve lost track of the Rohmer Films I watched wondering where the hell it was all going only to have that ‘Ah ha!’ moment invariably floor me as it all clicks into place.

That happened here, for me, around halfway through when the girls start discussing morals and ethics and I found myself sucked in. What is being dealt with is how the little things — a single sentence, a look, a word — can contain large “truths” or reveal someone’s entire character. One of the big issues with these two is on the matter of judging and being judged. We are creatures who judge, its part of what makes us so effective at navigating life, but who are we to judge someone else if we don’t know another person’s life? There are dangers in moralising and there’s also always a potential risk in helping someone so what to do if a stranger asks for our assistance? Who knew going to a cafe in Paris could lead to such philosophical and existential debates?!

‘Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle’ is a typical Rohmer film in so many ways — the pastel colours, the lack of musical soundtrack, the slender women, the waiting for a life changing natural event. It is low-key but also incredibly beautiful and, like many of Rohmer’s best work, contains a killer ending and this one also contains a perfect, brilliantly funny closing sentence that made me laugh out loud.

The final adventure sees the two girls really team up and it’s delightful to watch as there’s the feeling we’ve really got to know these two as they’ve got to know each other. That’s another one of Rohmer’s secrets; how his characters can get under your skin without our noticing. It’s another lesson I’ve learned which is never to dismiss a Rohmer movie until you’ve watched it to the very end, till the very final shot, for the ‘click’ to happen. Growth has occurred. Like a 400 franc bank note sometimes our views and morals are difficult, but not impossible, to change.




Comedy writer, radio producer and director of large scale audio features.

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Colin Edwards

Colin Edwards

Comedy writer, radio producer and director of large scale audio features.

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