Saturday, May 7, 2011

Duelle (une quarantaine)

(1976, Fr, 121min)
Jacques Rivette p Stéphane Tchalgadjieff sc Eduardo de Gregorio, Marilù Parolini ph William Lubtchansky ed Nicole Lubtchansky pd Eric Simon m Jean Wiener cast Hermine Karaghuez, Juliet Berto, Bulle Ogier, Jean Babilée, Nicole Garcia, Claire Nadeau, Elizabeth Wiener

Rivette’s aborted filles de feu series concerned two rival goddesses descended to Earth, here in search of a magical jewel allowing them to stay beyond their allotted forty days. Ogier and Berto are radiant as the daughters of the Sun and Moon, interacting in mysterious fashion with a plucky brunette heroine and an enigmatic blonde, with the odd man out (Babilée, a dancer) shifting his character dependent upon which woman he is playing opposite. Conceived under the twin lights of Cocteau and diabolic noir The Seventh Victim­, in a fashion extreme even for Rivette, the skeletal plot and oblique, last-minute dialogue are a means to put his cast through a series of doubled/opposed combinations whilst enacting a meticulous mise-en-scène full of sinuous/sinister Ophuls tracks and cinematic allusions; the relentless exploration of filmic space extends to direct-sound piano improvisations from veteran Wiener, unobtrusive but incongruous in the background. Strange, obscure and infinitely self-reflexive, yet those with some sympathy will glide trembling through the movie mirror to an endlessly seductive twilight world of invented myth.

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