Wily old French New Wave auteur Jacques Rivette hurls this hushed, funereally paced costume drama in the face of the Elizabeth films and similar juiced-up historical spectacles. The title character, a married noblewoman of early-19th-century Paris (played languorously by Jeanne Balibar), toys with the affections of a stolid, lovelorn general (Guillaume Depardieu), who courts her all the way to the convent. Rivette (Va Savoir, The Gang of Four) and screenwriters Pascal Bonitzer and Christine Laurent, adapting the novel by Honoré de Balzac, present the duchess feminine coup detat as a sort of Votive of the Vanities, with both parties paying the price for their indiscreet sentiments (137 min.).
Director: Jacques Rivette
Writer: Pascal Bonitzer, Christine Laurent and Honore de Balzac
Producer: Pierre Grise
Cast: Jeanne Balibar, Guillaume Depardieu, Bulle Ogier, Michel Piccoli, Barbet Schroeder, Anne Cantineau, Marc Barbe, Thomas Durand, Nicolas Bouchaud and Mathias Jung