Duelle (Une Quarantaine)

JACQUES RIVETTE

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.  France, 1976.  , , .  Screenplay by , , Jacques Rivette, dialogue by Eduardo de Gregorio.  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Toronto International Film Festival 1976.  

A mysterious beauty () shows up in a small hotel lobby late at night and asks the woman behind the desk to help her track down a man she is looking for.  Getting involved, the desk clerk () eventually witnesses a couple of murders and crosses paths with another mysterious beauty () who seems to have the ability to be in more than one place at once.  What this amateur detective eventually realizes is that these women are goddesses, one the queen of the night and the other of daylight, and that they are actually hunting down the man in question to gain possession of a giant diamond that will allow them to maintain their presence on Earth.  It sounds like the plot of an episode of She-Ra, but there’s such playful magic in the way director Jacques Rivette enacts this fantasy, a film that is elegant, endlessly charming and poetic in its feeling of free exploration.  This is a fantasy world where goddesses dress like old movie sirens and the action takes place in abandoned subway stations and smoky casinos; the perfect pitch with which Rivette both guides his camera and his solid cast makes for a smooth exercise in intelligent whimsy.

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