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Third part in Aleksandr Sokurov's quadrilogy of Power, following Moloch (1999) and Taurus (2001), focuses on Japanese Emperor Hirohito and Japan's defeat in World War II when he is finally confronted by General Douglas MacArthur who offers him to accept a diplomatic defeat for survival.
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Paris shortly before World War I. Wealthy and self-satisfied, Jean Hervey is returning home from work, describing life with his wife of 10 years, Gabrielle; he values her as impassive and stolid. However, that day she's gone, leaving a letter that she's joining a man she loves. Jean is devastated, but within minutes she's returned, telling him that her resolve has failed. Over the next two days, he questions, demands, begs, and parries with her: why did she leave, why did she return, does she love him, did she ever love him, who is her lover, is she passionate with her lover? She's calm as alabaster, reserved. Is she in danger? When she makes an offer, how will he respond? Written by
Gabrielle has fine actors, beautiful camera work and features a detailed look at upper crust French parlor society in the early 1900s. It is also one of the more boring and stifling pictures we've seen in a long time. Huppert is a great actress but she is wasted here. If the director was going to do a Conrad adaptation, the original story needed to be better converted for cinema because it just didn't work. There was incessant, drone-on talking which went nowhere. There was little or no character development. Overall the 90 minute movie felt like three and a half hours, for no payoff. The ending was just truncated and very unsatisfying.
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