A young art dealer, Adrien, decides to take a holiday in the south of France. He shares a villa with an artist, Daniel, and a promiscuous younger woman, Haydée. When he realises that Haydée collects men like art enthusiasts collect works of art, Adrien becomes convinced that Haydée intends to seduce him. Determined to resist her charms, he cruelly pushes other men, including Daniel, into a relationship with her.
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La Collectionneuse is Eric Rohmer's first color feature, and along with cinematographer and frequent collaborator Nestor Almendros, he uses a bright palette to maximum advantage in a story that like its time frame, is bursting in warm, vibrant hues that pretty much parallels the equally lightweight plot. Straying habitually close to the same story that makes up what the "Moral Tales" are about, this one concerns a frisky female, Haydee (Haydee Politoff), who captures the attention and equal repulsion of two other young men: Daniel (Daniel Pommereulle), an artist with a penchant for making art that literally cuts its viewers "who aren't sharp", and Adrien (Patrick Bauchau), a young art dealer who is soon to make a lucrative purchase from an American artist.
Haydee is first seen in a frank, objectified way: walking on the beach of Saint Tropez, alone, as the camera lingers on her face (reminiscent of Charlize Theron), her torso, her legs. It's, in a way, Rohmer's mode of possibly depersonalizing his heroine since she remains a murky character with little definition -- one moment submissive, another moment quite take-charge, but always obscure. It's also a way of introducing her carefree way to the viewer; had she been introduced as a buttoned-down, prim female, it would have been clear her role would be that of a woman of stiff mores. But, as we see throughout the movie, Haydee is living in the middle of the swinging Sixties and she could care less about those things. Nor if her partying disturbs the sleep of Adrien or Daniel.
Their share at the summer house in Saint Tropez is anything but placid. The two men are appalled at her behavior and decide not to have sex with Haydee "for her own good." Adrien even decides to dub her "The Collector" -- a moniker that makes up the title of the movie and points at a spiteful machismo because where men can be womanizers and be called studs, women who take on this attitude are sanctioned. He stays at a distance from Haydee as she becomes involved with Daniel. Their liaison, however, becomes rocky and both soon part ways, leaving Haydee and Adrien with an open door to come one step closer. In a shocking move, Adrien offers her to a prospective client in order to secure a Song vase. Surprisingly, she accepts, not without an incident involving the aforementioned vase, which in turn leads Haydee right into Adrien's arms.
Rohmer's movie is not without its "Rohmerisms" where characters introduce themselves with lengthy discussions as to the nature of life, love, attractions, and repulsions. In fact, every character minus Haydee does so, which makes her the more elusive and difficult to describe. Is she just floating along with what the men think they want? Or is she really clueless, a woman who has a simple view on life and who doesn't find any guilt in her actions? Interestingly enough, her "philosophy" is rather close to that of Adrien's girlfriend (every male character in his "Six Moral Tales" arc has a steady) who sees love as universal, indifferent to beauty or ugliness. That Haydee acts upon Adrien's girlfriend's statement says a lot more about who the girlfriend might be, but sheds an accessible light on Haydee.
And anyways, she comes off better than any of the two men, as do the other females of Rohmer's sextet -- Maud, Laura, or Chloe. (It's also interesting that all of the "other women" are mainly brunette and aggressive or assertive in temper, whereas the "ideal" one is frequently blond or passive in character.) Even when objectified, there is a mysterious likability within her that is missing in his two male leads. Adrien is a little hypocritical of his own observant nature and while he openly derides Haydee he also wants her. Daniel is a dark guy in this story and in all of the "Six Moral Tales" collection, not just because of his pain-inducing art, but a veneer of violence just underneath his arrogant demeanor. Maybe, in this story -- as well as all of his others -- Rohmer seems to be the Ultimate Observer, painting a picture in regards to immature men, their attraction to a worldly female, and their decision to remain in a complacent union with another one that can only be there as a Barbie doll.
Source : IMDb