1936, France, directed by Jean Renoir
Although it's not even three-quarters of an hour in length, Partie de campagne has nothing of the feel of a vignette, and it's as packed with incident as any of Renoir's full-length films. It's a beautiful evocation of a very specific time and place - and a fine adaptation of an intensely atmospheric Maupassant short story (although Renoir does not reproduce Maupassant's lingering descriptions of unpleasant agricultural odours). It's also achingly romantic, both in subject matter and tone - with an air of melancholy longing that lingers long after the final credits (the film is, if anything, more melancholy than the original short story, simply because it implies a far longer period of haunted remembering). Although the setting is the late nineteeenth century, it's not hard to imagine an updated version set in the 1930s - after all, the romance of an escape from the city in favour of the countryside banks of the Loire is at the heart of films like La Belle équipe, while the evocation of a young girl's romantic - and sexual - awakening is timeless (Maupassant explicitly compares young Henriette to Shakespeare's Juliet). The one distraction is the poor quality of the subtitles, at least in the print I saw; they don't capture the film's mood properly, and omit important information.