Claire's Knee

Claire's Knee (French: Le Genou de Claire) is a 1970 French drama film directed by Éric Rohmer. It is the fifth movie in the series of the Six Moral Tales.

Claire's Knee
Film poster
Directed byÉric Rohmer
Produced byPierre Cottrell
Barbet Schroeder
Written byÉric Rohmer
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 date
  • 11 December 1970 (1970-12-11) (France)
  • 21 February 1971 (1971-02-21) (USA)
Running time
106 minutes
Box office638,445 admissions (France)[1]


The story happens between 29 June and 29 July, presumably in 1970. (Inter-title cards 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 half-sister Claire arrives. Upon seeing Claire's knee on a ladder, he finds himself longing to touch her knee. However, Jérôme 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. When Claire starts to cry Jérôme consoles her by placing his hand upon Claire's knee.


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


The film 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.

It was a huge international success. Vincent Canby called it "something close to a perfect film."[4] 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, with Rohmer explaining "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."[4]


  1. Box Office information for Jean Claude Brialy films at Box Office Story
  2. "Claire's Knee (1970)". NYT. The New York Times. 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. John Wakeman, World Film Directors, Volume 2, 1945-1985. New York: H. W. Wilson, 1988. pp. 919-928.
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