Pauline at the Beach – Pauline à la Plage (1983)

Pauline at the Beach - Pauline à la Plage (1983)

Fifteen year old Pauline and her older cousin, model-shaped Marion, go to the emptying Atlantic coast for an autumn holiday. Marion ignores the approaches of a surfer and falls for Henri, a hedonist who is only interested in a sexual adventure and drops her soon. Pauline’s little romance with a young man (Sylvain) is also spoiled by Henri.

Pauline at the Beach (French: Pauline à la plage) is a 1983 French film directed by Éric Rohmer. The film stars Amanda Langlet, Arielle Dombasle, Pascal Greggory, Féodor Atkine, Simon de La Brosse, Rosette, Marie Bouteloup and Michel Ferry. It is the third in the 1980s series “Comedies and Proverbs” by Rohmer.

About the Story

A car pulls up in front of a wooden gate. Teenage Pauline (Amanda Langlet) gets out of the car to open the gate, as her older cousin Marion (Arielle Dombasle) drives inside their family’s vacation home on the north-western coast of France. As the girls settle in to their trip, Marion quizzes Pauline on her love life, and Pauline confesses that she has not had any serious affairs of the heart.

On the beach, Marion spies her ex-lover Pierre (Pascal Greggory). As they are getting reacquainted, a middle-aged man named Henri (Féodor Atkine) approaches and scolds Pierre for abandoning their windsurfing lessons. The quartet agree to have dinner together. Afterwards, they each talk briefly about their ideas of love in Henri’s living room. Henri is happy to be free from any serious commitments, as he travels the world as an ethnographer.

Pauline at the Beach - Pauline à la Plage (1983)

Marion wants to fall passionately in love at first sight, and she regrets her failed marriage to a man that she did not really love. Pierre is more cautious, and feels that love cannot form in an instant. Pauline listens quietly throughout and confesses that she agrees most of all with Pierre’s idea of love, but that she has learned a lot from listening to all of them.

Henri suggests that they all go dancing at a nearby casino. At the casino, Pierre confesses that his love for Marion has been reignited by seeing her again. But she does not want any part in a relationship with Pierre, due to his jealous nature. Instead, she chooses to sleep with Henri.

Back at the beach, Pierre tries to teach Marion and Pauline how to windsurf, when some local boys approach. Sylvain (Simon de la Brosse) takes a liking to Pauline. Marion steals away to visit Henri. Before they make love again, she prods him about the nature of his feelings, worried that she is just a meaningless conquest to him. Meanwhile, Sylvain and Pauline begin an affair of their own.

While Marion and Pauline are visiting Mont Saint-Michel, Henri does sleep with someone else, seducing Louisette (Rosette), who has a job selling snacks on the beach. Sylvain is watching TV downstairs at Henri’s house, while Henri is upstairs with Louisette. Seeing Marion pull into the driveway, Sylvain goes upstairs to warn Henri. Louisette hides in the bathroom, and Henri shoves Sylvain after her, closing the door on them as Marion climbs the stairs.

Once Marion hears the pair in the bathroom, Henri opens the door and lets Sylvain and Louisette scoot by, explaining to Marion that he had caught the two in his bed making love. Pierre had been walking by, and had chanced to see Louisette in Henri’s bedroom, naked. Pierre warns Marion about Henri, but she assures Pierre that it was Sylvain, not Henri, who was cheating on Pauline with Louisette. Pauline is hurt, but not heartbroken by the news. Henri’s lie unfolds as those involved begin to compare stories. When Marion is called away for a brief meeting in Paris, Pauline learns the truth about Sylvain. She and Pierre go looking for Sylvain.

Pauline at the Beach - Pauline à la Plage Movie Poster (1983)

Pauline at the Beach (1983)

Directed by: Éric Rohmer
Starring: Amanda Langlet, Arielle Dombasle, Pascal Greggory, Féodor Atkine, Simon de La Brosse, Rosette, Marie Bouteloup, Michel Ferry
Screenplay by: Éric Rohmer
Production Management: Marie Bouteloup, Hervé Grandsart
Cinematography by. Néstor Almendros
Film Editing by: Cécile Decugis, Christopher Tate
Music by: Jean-Louis Valéro
Distributed by: Orion Pictures
Release Date: March 23, 1983