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Friday, May 23, 2008

THE LADY AND THE DUKE (2002)

A tremendous surprise from Eric Rohmer who manages to combine a verbal fest of philosophical & political debate with a tru-life period suspenser about aristos during the French Revolution. Former lovers Grace Elliott (a Scot living in Paris) and the Duke of Orleans find themselves on opposing political sides (she’s the blindly unrepentant Royalist), but aid each other when they aren’t arguing issues. Rohmer’s staging ranges from the simplicity of a D W Griffith one-shot bedroom sequence to elaborate CGI visual backdrops that bring the vivant back to tableau vivant. The latter look like nothing you have seen before and, allied with the Comedie Francais acting style, show the sort of formal sophistication & daring Kubrick missed in BARRY LYNDON. LADY is so different from what you expect that you may find it off-putting at first, but it dictates its own rules and reigns supreme. Viva le Rohmer!

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