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The Duchess Of Langeais Review


Excellent
It's no mystery that men and women do unconscionable things in the name of love, but the way French-new-waver Jacques Rivette plays it in his adaptation of Balzac's Don't Touch the Axe, you would think it was an epidemic.

Titled The Duchess of Langeais, Rivette's Restoration anti-romance takes the structure of a courtship between General Montriveau (Guillaume Depardieu), a celebrated war hero, and Antoinette (the astounding Jeanne Balibar), the titular married coquette, in the early 19th-century. At a ball in the upper echelons of French society, Antoinette becomes intrigued by the stoic Montriveau even before she meets him. Despite his lack of game, the general entices the married duchess with stories of his wartime campaigns. A student of Bonaparte, Montriveau becomes infatuated with Antoinette, who, in turn, begins to strategically toy with her soldier-in-waiting.

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La Belle Noiseuse Review


Very Good
Fine art's a funny thing that I barely pretend to understand. In this molasses-slow four-hour drama, Jacques Rivette proves that he's got an understanding of fine art, but a minimal one of the art of movies. Four hours of sketching, painting, and posing a naked Emmanuelle Béart has a certain summer-in-the-south-of-France charm to it, but that can't drag us through 240 full minutes. The story is threadbare: Old artist, young visitor, his girlfriend becomes the old artist's model -- and together they figure out that neither of them is really in charge of the artistic process. Lots of self-discovery and philosophizing along the way. Very French, and actually much more capable of being enjoyed at a setting of x2 speed on your DVD player.

Va Savoir Review


OK
Only the French could make a romantic comedy that clocks in at more than 2 1/2 hours in length. And of course, it wouldn't have much of a plot, either. This wafer-thin production, reminiscent of a really long Oscar Wilde play, Starring Jeanne Balibar (the poor man's Audrey Tautou), the movie is a hodgepodge of love triangles and petty theft, some of which amuses, but not for long enough to keep this critic's interest over its full running time. A curiosity that's easily forgettable.
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