Leonard Cobiant

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The Lady And The Duke Review


Excellent
"Through a spyglass, I could see everything." King Louis XVI was beheaded on January 21, 1793, but instead of visualizing this act of regicide, legendary auteur Eric Rohmer's The Lady and the Duke observes from afar. Consider it a view to a kill made abstract. A proper British (yes, British) gentlewoman, Grace Elliott (Lucy Russell), and her loyal maidservant gaze from a lofty terrace in Meudon at the glistening city of Paris, where raucous crowds seem tinier than ants. The maid narrates what little she sees of the execution through her telescope (often muttering, "I don't know,") as the sound of cheering patriots and revolutionaries echoes through the air. What we don't see might not be able to hurt us. Just close your eyes and think of England.

During times of revolution, the aristocracy may feel a false sense of calm in their parlor halls, discussing tumultuous events over glasses of sherry until the walls cave in on them. Adapted from Elliott's memoirs, Journal of My Life During the French Revolution, Rohmer's latest artistic tour-de-force may seem far removed from his domestic comedies (Tales of the Four Seasons, etc.), a period film set during the most violent changes in French history. Resisting the temptation for grand-scale theatrics, much of The Lady and the Duke is about quiet, decisive moments between members of the cultural elite as they determine how to proceed as the world implodes.

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The Lady & The Duke Review


Weak

A visually experimental but narratively lifeless French Revolution melodrama, "The Lady and the Duke" ("L'Anglaise Et Le Duc") recounts events surrounding Louis XVI's overthrow and the violent underbelly of its aftermath for the upper classes.

Taking a page from George Lucas's playbook, prolific Gaelic director Eric Rohmer ("Autumn Tale") shot the film against blue screens with minimal sets, creating the oil painting-like world in which action unfolds largely through computer-generated imagery in post-production.

But while this high-tech art flick is a worthwhile curiosity on the moviemaking front (its style bears a low-budget resemblance to "What Dreams May Come"), its story is a dull and academic one. It's told almost entirely from inside the soundstagey drawing rooms of English expatriate Grace Elliott (Lucy Russell), a real historical figure who had plenty of opinions but no influence to speak of.

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Leonard Cobiant Movies

The Lady and the Duke Movie Review

The Lady and the Duke Movie Review

"Through a spyglass, I could see everything." King Louis XVI was beheaded on January...

The Lady & The Duke Movie Review

The Lady & The Duke Movie Review

A visually experimental but narratively lifeless French Revolution melodrama, "The Lady and the Duke" ("L'Anglaise...

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