the lady and the duke

Friday Flick:

I'm not recommending Sony Classics' The Lady and the Duke (released in 2001) for its story or directing (by legendary Eric Rohmer) or cinematography or performances.  I couldn't even watch the movie in its entirety.  I fast-forwarded.  And that is something that I hardly ever ever do.  I force myself to sit all the way through even the dullest of movies before I judge it.  Sadly, I could not do it with this one.  The tales of an Englishwoman's affairs during the French Revolution appeal to me, but this film did not bring that story to life with any strength. I didn't even hang onto the copy of the DVD to revisit the movie at a different time when I might be more in the mood.  I popped it right back in the mail to FacetsAnd I feel vindicated for my disappointment by Stephanie Zacharek's review in Salon among others. 

All that said, I was attracted to the idea of using paintings as sets for a movie.  The painted backdrops have an impressive affect on time and motion, ripening it for sensuality and nostalgia.  In Roger Ebert's review, he describes it as, "a daring visual style in which the actors and foreground action are seen against artificial tableaux of Paris circa 1792. These are not "painted backdrops," but meticulously constructed perspective drawings, which are digitally combined with the action in a way that is both artificial and intriguing."  Unfortunately the action and story do not hold up to the set.  I don't really see how they could. Wow.  That's a hell of a set.  

In the end, even though the movie overall fell short for me, I'm grateful the French New Waver, Rohmer, experimented this way, especially so late in his career.  Apparently he was in his 80s when making the film.  He made something smart, elegant and tempting to the eyes that pushes the way we expect to see a motion picture.

To read more about the artist's thoughts when he, Jean Baptiste Marot, made the paintings for the movie and how they were incorporated technically (for example, note that the actors perform in front of green screens - not the actual paintings), follow this link.  



No comments: