Vacations are meant to be utilized as necessary escapes from the realities and struggles of everyday life. There is often a balance between great preparation and spontaneity in the construction of this elaborate repose, whereby individuals may meet locals quite familiar with the area being visited. A sense of wonderment experienced by those vacationing may not be apparent to residents due to extreme familiarity. There may be a discrepancy between lifestyle and surroundings between the two groups, creating a sense of awe and congeniality. This dynamic is explored in Jean Renoir’s understated unfinished 1936 film entitled “A Day in the Country” or “Partie de campagne”.
A wealthy shop owner, Monsieur Dufour (Andre Gabriello), and his family from Paris opt to travel to the beautiful, natural countryside along the Seine River one summer day in 1860. They are treated to great local hospitality, and are given a great meal as well as fishing rods! However, two men set their sights on wooing Dufour’s wife (Jane Marken) and daughter Henriette (Sylvia Bataille). Henri (Georges D’Arnoux) creates delightful chemistry with Henriette, who is unfortunately engaged to her father’s clumsy apprentice, Anatole (Paul Temps). Her planned future may thus unhinge, as her heart’s new feelings may not align with the romance that has been conveniently prescribed. The gorgeous scenery and somewhat remote location aid in amplifying these sentiments.
The events and emotions that one encounters during one particular day may change the course of one’s life. Pivotal moments can happen when least expected, such as an employment opportunity, or may be in our awareness for quite a while, like the birth of a child. “A Day in the Country” effortlessly demonstrates this concept, with an innocent trip leading Henriette to question the course of her destiny as a partner and wife. Events such as these have a ripple effect, whereby choices made stemming from these occurrences can alter our life’s passage. These decisions may have positive or negative effects, further guiding us on our journey. Thus, the struggle of weighing passion versus practicality is very genuine.
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