Monday, August 30, 2010

The Rohmer Lean

The Tree, the Mayor and the Mediatheque (1993)

Claire's Knee (1970)

The Green Ray (1986)

Bresson's characters are famous for their perfect posture; the kids in The Devil, Probably may need haircuts, but they stand straighter than soldiers. Bujalski's are famous for their slouches; they look as though they're ducking under the low ceiling of the frame.

Rohmer's are somewhere in between, often holding their bodies in a stylized imitation of casualness. A mock physical candor. Illustrated above: the Rohmer lean, a sort of artful half-slouch that you see Rohmer's male characters doing again and again. The hip is slightly pivoted, the weight shifted in a way that allows for long conversations while standing. The beauty of the Rohmer lean lies in the deployment of the elbows. Really, Rohmer's films are all about elbows (planted on tabletops, jutting out, tucked away), and his characters communicate more with their elbows than most movie characters do with dialogue. If Fritz Lang's is a "cinema of the hand," then Rohmer's is a "cinema of the elbow."

This lean, which always leaves one elbow out, is the perfect stance to take while having a private conversation in public or in an outdoor space where seating is not available; it also gives the leaner the casual air of a Caravaggio model, and makes them look vaguely saintly even while they contemplate unsaintly possibilities.

The Rohmer lean is exclusively the domain of men, and is usually deployed while talking to women, who lean back, but never to the side. It is because these women always lean back (as if to present themselves, and thus dominate a scene) that the Rohmer men have evolved this sideways lean, which allows them to stand at a right angle to the women and not be leaned back at (and therefore beaten in the lean-off of the sexes). What many Rohmer women seek is a man who will face them head-on, and what many of Rohmer's men are looking for is a girl to lean sideways at a right angle to; to be in close company and yet able to casually gaze as if from a distance.


Matt said...

Good observations. Deserves further study.

Sabrina Marques. said...


youngandbold said...

Nothing artful or cool, just old and corny. like the people who read your blog I guess.

Gautam Valluri said...

What happens when a woman leans sideways to a man? What is he supposed to do then?

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky said...


He's been bested!