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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Specifically, Mornings is the story of two composers, Sainte Colombe (Jean-Pierre Marielle) and his protege, Marin Marais (played by Gérard Depardieu as an older man and by his son Guillaume Depardieu for the bulk of the film). Sainte Colombe quickly earns a reputation as a master musician -- adding a seventh string to the viol, for example -- but his shunning of the king even more quickly earns him a place in rural exile. As Colobe's wife has died, he's dedicated himself to his hermitage, and more importantly his music.
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Yeah, that sounds pretty stupid, but Depardieu's a good enough actor to pull most of this off: A mean-spirited story of intra-family backbiting and angst, with the son played by real-life Depardieu junior, Guillaume. Gérard Depardieu proves he's still go the chops to pull off a hateful father role even though he's playing against his own son.
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While the title, Pola X, certainly has a nice ring to it, it stands representative of everything Carax's movie is: all flash, pointless trickery, grating snobbery and, ultimately, no more substance than a private joke only one person finds amusing.
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