The Duchess of Langeais

Rated R 2008

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 d’etat” as a sort of Votive of the Vanities, with both parties paying the price for their indiscreet sentiments (137 min.).


The Duchess of Langeais

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