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Critics reviews
The Duchess of Langeais
Jacques Rivette France, 2007
The characters of The Duchess of Langeais are caught in a kind of lateral sweep, a waltz with the camera, at first leading, then being led in turn. The action is so self-perpetuating—the soaring emotion and cruel sadism of Langeais and Montriveau’s love games, for which we have no interior reference, as well as the whirling of dancers as they glide around the room—that it outpaces even the darting tracks and pans of the camera at every moment.
December 11, 2015
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The Duchess of Langeais’s furnishings suggest a deep fidelity to the early-realist world of Balzac, with sparse, quality-over-quantity finery, but the narrative design calls to mind some strange Oulipian game. The film is a rather sober affair for Rivette—even the movie he made after Duchess, Around a Small Mountain, revolves around a circus tent—its gamesmanship more submerged.
April 16, 2013
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It offers a peerless display of contemporary French screen acting.
December 01, 2008
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The love story that ensues is as wild and irrational as anything conceived by Emily Bronté.
July 16, 2008
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Like any Ophuls film (and La Ronde in particular), Duchess sees history as staged: not only one artificially by the present, but artificially by the era itself.
March 14, 2008
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This is Rivette’s third film to draw from Balzac, but the first actually set in the Restoration period. This distinction may not be particularly important; his filmmaking has never, even when couched in the most contemporary of milieus, seemed the property of this century: who in this hectic millennium has time to watch such famously endless movies? This is much of what makes Rivette so likable; his work is so singular as to be completely improbable.
February 21, 2008
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Rivette is teasing his way, thinking afresh, playing a game but tweaking its rules, telling a story, but only sort of—making, in short, not simply a movie, but that ineffable magic called cinema.
February 19, 2008
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It is pure cinema, a masterpiece, driven to the hilt by Jacques Rivette, who rends the material in its complete respectfulness to the text, in its complete understanding of the text, of the actors, and of their melancholy, absolutely vital little play.
February 19, 2008
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