Damien Hauer is a professor of Chinese civilization whose life with his stage director girlfriend Iva Delusi has become rather stagnant and miserable. Things get more complicated for him, however, when she makes him promise to help her immigrant friend Zorica when threats of her deportation arise. To do this he must condescend to speak to his father Sebastien; an important figure in the French Council of State. However, Damien has not spoken to his father in several years and finds it very difficult to accept his quirks and have a good relationship - after all, relationships of any sort are not his strong point. If Damien's task does not go well, he faces permanently severing ties with Sebastien and losing his partner who is becoming increasingly frustrated and hurt by his lack of affection.
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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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Antoine (Gérard Depardieu) has a nice job. He oversees construction for a company who builds media centers all over the world, using his skills as an engineer and a negotiator to keep projects rolling. These skills were not used to his advantage earlier in his life when he dated Cécile (Catherine Deneuve), who now makes her living as a radio show host and a wife to Nathan (Gilbert Melki), a renowned doctor. Fate, as it tends to do, intervenes (interferes) and sends Antoine to Tangiers, where Cécile lives. At the same time, Cécile and Nathan's son Sami (Malik Zidi) and his partner Nadia (Lubna Azabal) come home for vacation time. By vacation, they actually mean for Sami to visit his secret boyfriend and for Nadia to visit her sister, Aïcha (Lubna again). The film mainly pivots on Antoine's quest to get Cécile back, which begins as gazing from afar and eventually becomes family interaction.
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Barbet Schroeder's Tricheurs (aka Cheaters) is an underseen and unappreciated masterwork, writ small and perfectly crafted to devastate. The story follows Elric (Jacques Dutronc), a serial gambler who plies the casinos on the island of Madeira and never seems to win. Rather, it's not that he can't win, it's that he doesn't know when to quit if he does. Elric plays roulette, the game with the worst odds but which carries the highest potential payoff: $35 against a $1 bet. All it takes is a couple of big wins before Elric blows his funds on wild bets and promptly loses it all.
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