Some films are short stories. Other films are novels. Some still are plays, and others are albums. Occasionally films may also be paintings. This is nothing to do with the source material, and everything to do with the execution, the ambience. Éric Rohmer’s first film series, Six Moral Tales, was destined to be a short story collection until Rohmer realised that what he had written were not actually short stories at all, but films.
Six Moral Tales is, arguably, about as perfect and classical as a short story collection can be, with each film both distinct and tying into an overall theme and mood. At the heart of each is a man struggling with fidelity. (Interestingly, Rohmer’s future films tended to focus more on female points of view.) ‘Chloé in the Afternoon’ is not my favourite of the six, and it also feels less literary than its predecessors in the series. But watch the scene where the protagonist, about to finally succumb to Chloe’s advances, suddenly runs away, which we view via an overhead shot of a staircase. It’s the perfect short story ending, one many of us chase after.