A bombastic, womanizing art dealer and his painter friend go to a seventeenth-century villa on the Riviera for a relaxing summer getaway. But their idyll is disturbed by the presence of the bohemian Haydée, accused of being a “collector” of men.
La collectionneuse offers a case study in rationalization. With its rich, unapologetically literary, first-person voice-over narration by Adrien, the film is essentially about the disparity between the main characters’ subjective interpretations of events and another, wider truth, which may be gleaned by the spectator eavesdropping on the proceedings.
Why, then, are these men so nasty to her? They are angry because she is a pretty morsel who, to their (sexist) minds, imposes on them an obligation to try to seduce her; they are angry that she has attracted them somewhat but not all the way (their own problem, but they interpret it as a kind of tease on her part); they are angry that she represents the utopian sexual liberation of a younger generation, and they are jealous of the cloddish, career-unburdened young men with whom she sleeps; and finally, they are angry simply because she is a woman […].
Rohmer’s use of nonprofessionals is complicated. He has never been as doctrinaire about it as Robert Bresson, but he likes nonprofessionals for the fact that they seem quieter and less apt to project Personality, with a capital P. They are more like empty vessels, ambiguous and harder to read, whom the audience must move halfway to meet. On the other hand, Rohmer often combined vivid professional actors with nonprofessionals, or gave nonprofessionals their first significant roles, which subsequently led to long acting careers.
— Phillip Lopate (Criterion)