(out of 5)
As in all of Eric Rohmer’s films, this is a character drama where people sit around talking endlessly about charming subjects. Unlike his contemporary, sunlit romantic comedies, it takes place during the French Revolution and involves its characters having their conversations in gorgeously plush drawing rooms. Lucy Russell is excellent as an Englishwoman living as the mistress of the Duke of Orleans of Paris, whose eyes are opened to the treachery of her noble friends when the political climate threatens the lives of some people close to her as well as her own. When a moral conundrum involves her patron the Duke, she is made even more aware of this man to whom she’s given so much of herself. The outdoor scenes were created by taking paintings from the period and rendering them three-dimensionally for the characters to walk through, making for a dreamy effect that is one of the film’s key attractions. Some will find it overly talky, but for me the pleasure is in listening to Russell’s charmingly accented French delivering her mesmerizing performance.
Directed by Eric Rohmer
Adaptation by Eric Rohmer, based on the memoir Ma Vie Sous La Revolution by Grace Elliott
Cinematography by Diane Baratier
Produced by Francoise Etchegaray
Production Design by Antoine Fontaine
Film Editing by Mary Stephen