(out of 5)
A minor masterpiece from Eric Rohmer, probably the best of all his period pieces. It’s about a beautiful, titled widow whose father’s citadel is raided and she is set upon by soldiers before being saved from being raped by a Russian soldier. He falls madly in love with her and begs her to marry him before leaving to go abroad, and upon being refused tells her he hopes to gain her hand when he returns. She begins to feel ill when he leaves, then notices her stomach swelling and is determined by doctors to be carrying a child, which she insists is an impossibility given that she has not been with a man since her husband’s death. Rejected by her parents and criticized by her peers, the Marquise eventually finds no other recourse than to advertise in the newspaper for the unknown father of her child before the devastating and moving conclusion. Told with the light, brittle humour that all of Rohmer’s films benefit from, it moves at a quiet, peaceful pace that is pure heaven to experience, especially when combined with the gorgeous images by Nestor Almendros that, true to his remarkable ability with shadowy, candlelit beauty, perpetually feel like oil paintings come to life.
Directed by Eric Rohmer
Screenplay by Eric Rohmer, based on the novella by Heinrich von Kleist
Cinematography by Nestor Almendros
Costume Design by Moidele Bickel
Film Editing by Cecile Decugis
Cannes Film Festival: 1976