The action takes place at the turn of the 19th Century. Adolphe (Stanislas Merhar) is a carefree, somewhat jaded 22-year-old, scion of a preeminent aristocratic family, with a very ...
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The action takes place at the turn of the 19th Century. Adolphe (Stanislas Merhar) is a carefree, somewhat jaded 22-year-old, scion of a preeminent aristocratic family, with a very promising political career ahead of him. To Adolphe, love means conquest, and since he is bored, love is a good pastime. At a soirée given by the Count (Jean Yanne) in his sumptuous castle, Adolphe sets his eyes on the beautiful Ellénore (Isabelle Adjani), a young widow, ten years his elder, mother of two children. She also happens to be the Count's mistress. Adolphe falls in love with Ellénore, for lack of a better thing to do. At first, Ellénore resists Adolphe's feverish advances. He insists, becoming an overwhelming presence (and nuisance) in Ellénore's life. Eventually, she surrenders. Soon after, the novelty of this adventure wearing out, Adolphe tries to liberate himself from his new lover, who has become a burden in his life, an obstacle to his freedom. However, he cannot bring himself to altogether...
Perhaps I am to blame my unfamiliarity with the original novel by Benjamin Constant (1816), but this movie turned out to be one of the most boring titles that have graced my eyes. As a fan of French cinema in general, and Adjani in particular, I was eager to watch this `movie about great tragic love' (as I was told by people who recommended it). As I watched this movie, I realized that I've been tricked, misinformed: there's no such thing as `love' in this movie, just appalling lust. Basically, to sum it up, this is a shot at the time-old story of a man who falls for a woman; woman sleeps with the man; man stops caring about the woman yet sticks with her `out of principle'. Meanwhile, the viewer is forced to sit though a good hour and half of Adjani's lamentations (which got tiring after the first 20 minutes of the movie) and with the male lead that `floats' around mumbling quasi-meaningless clichéd observations while being about as expressive as a log. Nothing really happens in the movie (which could have been easily shortened two-folds), and when the credits finally start to roll the only thing that redeems this piece of cinematic work is the fact that it finally came to an end. Ultimately, the story as it is presented by this disappointment of a movie feels like a distasteful version of Eugene Onegin (even though Adolphe was written slightly before Pushkin's chef-d'oeuvre), minus the parts that made Onegin exciting and thrilling.
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