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An episodic look at Grace Elliott (1760-1823) and Philippe, the Duke of Orleans, during the French Revolution. In 1790, they are friends, no longer lovers. He suggests she leave France, she warns him to quit the Revolution. In 1792, she must escape Paris on foot. Less than a month later, she returns on an errand of mercy and shows great courage saving the governor of Tuileries. The Duke in turn steps in to protect Grace. In early 1793, she demands a promise from the Duke that he vote to spare Louis's life; he does not, and Grace is furious. In April, he warns her of a search; she is arrested and brought before the committee. Orleans, too, is suspect. The guillotine awaits.Written by
Much has been made of Rohmer's use of digital technology to 'fill in' the background. At times it works well, the scene where Grace and her maid witness from afar the King's execution is particularly striking. At other times it gives the film a strangely amateurish look, resembling a home video. However, the major failing is that the sheer artificiality of the mise en scene creates an alienating effect in the viewer. We know that what we are watching is not real so how can we feel for the characters? To be frank, I did not care at all what happened to the Lady or the Duke.
The other major failing, I regret to say, is the performance of Lucy Russell in the leading role. She is in virtually every scene and the success or otherwise of the film rests on her performance. OK she is speaking a foreign language but she is incapable of expressing real emotion. Her emoting in the scene where she recounts to her friend Mme de Meyler (an excellent performance by the debutante Helena Dubiel) seeing the head on a pole caused some embarrassed laughter in the audience. Also, watch her hands when she is expressing emotion!
All in all a very disappointing film, particularly given the positive reviews on this site.
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