One of the most striking aspects of Eric Rohmer's films is his uncanny ability to make his characters seem perfectly at home in a world of intellectual dialogue and ethical complexity. He continues this tender balance and magical ability in Claire's Knee.
Set in a scenic French lake resort, the story centers around Jerome (Jean-Claude Brialy), a handsome 35-year-old diplomat about to be married, and Aurora (Aurora Cornu), a Rumanian poetess who is staying with a woman and her two daughters, Laura (Beatrice Romand) and Claire (Laurence De Monaghan). Aurora tempts her old friend Jerome to react to young Laura's affections toward him. This complex young 16-year-old confesses her feelings about life and love to Jerome while they are in the mountains hiking. Intrigued with this literary game, Jerome calls himself a "guinea pig" for Aurora's writing. He moves from the flirtatious Laura to her step-sister Claire, who is having a teenage love affair with a headstrong fellow her own age. Jerome's fixation on Claire's knee reflects his feeling for her.
As in another of his "Six Moral Tales", the film My Night at Maud's, Rohmer is dealing with a man's temptation to follow his impulses against his structured beliefs. The charm of this film is in the characterizations of Aurora, Jerome, Laura, and Claire. All of them are warm and complex, with the women revealing the ambiguity of feminine sexuality and personal independence. The artful blend of the photography and dialog is masterful. This is another gem from Rohmer reflecting the stout emotional, spiritual, sexual, and mental aspects of people. One forgets the screen and steps into art, which is synonymous with life.