(out of 5)
Jacques Rivette’s companion piece to Duelle is as visual splendid though not as invigorating. Loosely inspired by (and including pieces of) The Revenger’s Tragedy by Cyril Tourneur, it stars Geraldine Chaplin as a woman who plans to get revenge on a witch (Bernadette Lafont) who killed her brother. Lafont is the leader of a gang of pirates, and Chaplin enlists her friend Kika Markham to go undercover with the bad guys while she herself poses as a bodyguard to the woman in question. Shot on the gorgeous coast of Brittany, the film is a ravishing pleasure to look at, the brightly coloured silky clothing against the rich blue sea and sky providing endless pleasure. Rivette’s ability to infuse such fanciful plots with his brand of poetic intelligence is not absent either, and the film’s inclusion of such manner of art forms as Noh theatre and music do not create a muddle but rather enhance its unique charm. The last third becomes tiresome, however, as even a director this good at stretching the tiniest plot points across long scenes of people lounging on couches and highly stylized sword fights can run out of steam before he is ready to pack it in. Drawing it out to the overdue finish means dulling the impact of the curiously whimsical scenes with which it began, and it doesn’t help that Chaplin, while sympathetic, is not fully accessible.
Directed by Jacques Rivette
Cinematography by William Lubtchansky
Production Design by Eric Simon
Costume Design by Renee Renard
Film Editing by Nicole Lubtchansky