A Sunday in the Country

The subject matter of A SUNDAY IN THE COUNTRY may be quintessentially French (it often looks like a Renoir painting come to life), but the emphatically subtle approach made me think of certain Japanese films. Very little of consequence happens, yet every gesture is revealing, providing clues to the characters' interpersonal history, their current social standing, or how they relate to the dominant culture circa 1912. It also feels like the work of a former critic insofar as it exudes the maker's love of performing historical research; the past is rendered vividly and convincingly, never cutely. I found Tavernier's filmmaking calculating at first (every moment screams subtlety), but it sucked me in anyway. I came to ponder the same things Monsieur Ladmiral was pondering—what qualities make art endure, what we choose to pass down to future generations.