FIND MOVIES
Movie List
Loading ...
or
Find Theaters and Movie Times
or
Search Movies

Ne Touchez Pas la Hache|La duchesse de Langeais

Art vis-à-vis life
By PETER KEOUGH  |  March 12, 2008
3.0 3.0 Stars
SHORTTAKES_Still31inside
Jeanne Balibar

He may have just turned 80, but Jacques Rivette still gets a kick out of the parallel-mirror effect of art vis-à-vis life. In his adaptation of the Balzac novel La duchesse de Langeais (the French title translates as “Don’t touch the ax,” which makes it sound more like a Chabrol film), he layers the period detail on with exquisite self-consciousness and throws in enough prosceniums, mirrors, curtains, and such-like to keep the artifice front and center. Galumphing through this décor, the lame Marquis de Montriveau (Guillaume Depardieu), a Napoleonic hero, takes a shine to the title coquette (Jeanne Balibar) and lays siege. The Duchess (the Duke is a no-show) rebukes him and leads him on, and their hyperbolic tête-à-têtes, broken into repeated drawing-room scenes separated by intertitles reading, “an hour later,” and the like, assume a Buñuelian absurdity. But the bluster is at last taken at its word, and the keen edge of reality cuts through the masks. French | 137 minutes | MFA: March 19, 20, 22, 23, 26
Related: Cinema belongs to him, Better transformers, Unmitigated Gaul, More more >
  Topics: Reviews , Jacques Rivette, Jeanne Balibar
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY PETER KEOUGH
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   BUFFET DINING: THE 15TH BOSTON UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL  |  March 19, 2013
    "Copraphagy" is a key word at this year's Boston Underground Film Festival at the Brattle.
  •   REVIEW: GINGER & ROSA  |  March 19, 2013
    Sally Potter likes to mess around with form and narrative.
  •   UNDERGROUND CINEMA: THE 12TH BOSTON TURKISH FILM FESTIVAL  |  March 12, 2013
    This year's Boston Turkish Film Festival includes works in which directors ponder the relationships between the secular and the religious, between men and women, and between destiny and identity.
  •   REVIEW: A GLIMPSE INSIDE THE MIND OF CHARLES SWAN III  |  March 12, 2013
    In Roman Coppola's sophomoric second feature (his 2001 debut CQ was promising), Charlie Sheen shows restraint as the titular asshole, a dissolute ad designer and solipsistic whiner who's mooning over the loss of his latest love.
  •   REVIEW: UPSIDE DOWN  |  March 14, 2013
    Had Ed Wood Jr. directed Fritz Lang's Metropolis , he couldn't have achieved the earnest dopiness of Juan Solanas's sci-fi allegory — nor the striking images.

 See all articles by: PETER KEOUGH