Claire's Knee

Claire's Knee (French: Le Genou de Claire) is a 1970 French romantic drama film written and directed by Éric Rohmer. It follows a soon-to-be-married man and his conflicted relationship with two teenage girls. The film stars Jean-Claude Brialy, Aurora Cornu, Béatrice Romand and Laurence de Monaghan. It is the fifth film in the series of the Six Moral Tales (1963–1972).

Claire's Knee
Claire's Knee.jpg
Film poster
Directed byÉric Rohmer
Written byÉric Rohmer
Produced byPierre Cottrell
Barbet Schroeder
StarringJean-Claude Brialy
Aurora Cornu
Béatrice Romand
Laurence de Monaghan
CinematographyNéstor Almendros
Edited byCécile Decugis
Distributed byLes Films du Losange (France)
Columbia Pictures (USA)
Release dates
  • 11 December 1970 (1970-12-11) (France)
  • 21 February 1971 (1971-02-21) (USA)
Running time
106 minutes
Box office638,445 admissions (France)[1]

Claire's Knee was released in France on 11 December 1970 to critical acclaim. It received the Louis Delluc Prize for Best French Film of the year. Abroad, it was named Best Film by the National Society of Film Critics and Best Foreign Film by the National Board of Review.


The story happens between 29 June and 29 July, presumably in 1970. Intertitles of the dates are displayed before the daily events are shown.

While holidaying at Lake Annecy on the eve of his wedding, career diplomat Jérôme accidentally meets up with Aurora, an old personal friend. Through Aurora, he meets Aurora's landlady, Madame Walter, and Laura, Madame Walter's youngest teenage daughter. Observant Aurora detects Laura's crush on Jérôme, and advises Jérôme of such. After Jérôme and Laura take a hike in the mountains together, she confesses that she is "a little in love with" Jérôme.

Days later (on 8 July), Laura's attractive older step-sister Claire arrives. Upon seeing Claire's knee while she is on a ladder, Jérôme finds himself longing to touch it, but he controls his temptation. Eventually an opportunity presents itself during a boat trip on the lake when Jérôme and Claire have to seek shelter in a hut from an approaching storm. Jérôme tells Claire that he saw her boyfriend, Gilles, together with another girl, Muriel. When Claire starts to cry Jérôme consoles her by placing his hand upon Claire's knee. Jérôme later delightedly tells Aurora that it had taken him great courage to touch Claire's knee and that doing so has exorcised his desire of her from him. Gilles returns and tries to give Claire excuses as to why he was with Muriel.


  • Jean-Claude Brialy as Jérôme Montcharvin, the diplomat
  • Aurora Cornu as Aurora, the novelist
  • Béatrice Romand as Laura, the younger step-sister
  • Laurence de Monaghan as Claire, the elder step-sister
  • Michèle Montel as Madame Walter, the mother of Laura
  • Gérard Falconetti as Gilles
  • Fabrice Luchini as Vincent


Claire's Knee received the Louis Delluc Prize for Best French film of the year,[2] the 1971 Prix Méliès and the Grand Prix at the San Sebastián International Film Festival.[3] It was named Best Film by the National Society of Film Critics and Best Foreign Film by the National Board of Review. It was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globe Awards.

The film was a huge critical success. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, Claire's Knee hold an approval rating of 96%, based on 23 critic reviews with an average rating of 8.3/10. The site's consensus reads: "Told through precise body language and sunny wit, Claire's Knee makes an unusual love story feel universal".[4]

Vincent Canby of The New York Times called it "something close to a perfect film".[5] Cecile Mury of Télérama said: "This camera outdoors gives the appearance of a small story where it goes 'nothing'. Yet these 'fragments of a love speech' make up a special study of desire, verbal pleasure, almost literary, which accompanies every inclination. A jewel".


It was Rohmer's second film shot in color, as he explained: "the presence of the lake and the mountains is stronger in color than in black and white. It is a film I couldn't imagine in black and white. The color green seems to me essential in that film...This film would have no value to me in black and white".[5]

The film's visual aesthetics and narrative style has been noted for inspiring Luca Guadagnino's Call Me by Your Name (2017).[6]


  1. ^ Box Office information for Jean Claude Brialy films at Box Office Story
  2. ^ Hal Erickson (2007). "Claire's Knee (1970)". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on 15 October 2007. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  3. ^ Ruadhán Mac Cormaic (2010-01-11). "Film-maker Rohmer dies in Paris". The Irish Times. Retrieved February 22, 2015
  4. ^ Claire's Knee, retrieved 2023-02-16
  5. ^ a b John Wakeman, World Film Directors, Volume 2, 1945-1985. New York: H. W. Wilson, 1988. pp. 919-928.
  6. ^ "Summer is the season of temptation in Claire's Knee". The A.V. Club. 2020-08-07. Retrieved 2023-05-18.

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