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The Lady and The Duke Review

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Revolutionary France, and a fiercely royalist Englishwoman remains in Paris despite the fact her once-amorous liaison with the ultimately treacherous Duc d'Orléans places her in the shadow of the guillotine.

★★★★

Some might find it curious that the master of contemporary juvenile mores should be reminiscing about things past. But 81 year-old Eric Rohmer has previously tackled historical topics, and both Perceval Le Gallois and The Marquise Of O adopted an experimental visual style at odds with his trademark realism.

Here, the Beta video format occasionally betrays the tactic of digitally reconciling live action with the 37 background canvasses meticulously created by Jean-Baptiste Marot. But Rohmer largely succeeds in suggesting the Parisian environs in which Grace Elliott sought to avoid the fate suffered by her friends at court.

Moreover, he manages to discuss such pertinent themes as equality, loyalty, freedom of thought and female emancipation within the context of a frequently gripping costume thriller.

With its wealth of detail and depth of debate, this is an unashamedly intellectual film that takes its viewer as seriously as its subject.

Superbly performed, but notable primarily for its utter rejection of the multiplex mentality and its use of special effects to construct a factual past rather than a fantasy future.

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