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300 Ratings

Don't Touch the Axe

Ne touchez pas la hache

Directed by Jacques Rivette
France, Italy, 2007
Drama, Romance, History


In Majorca, in 1823, a French general, Armand de Montriveau (Guillaume Depardieu), overhears a cloistered nun singing in a chapel; he insists on speaking to her. She is Antoinette (Jeanne Balibar), for five years he has searched for her. Flash back to their meeting in Paris…

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Don't Touch the Axe Directed by Jacques Rivette

Critics reviews

The characters of The Duchess of Langeais are caught in a kind of lateral sweep, a waltz with the camera, at first leading, then being led in turn. The action is so self-perpetuating—the soaring emotion and cruel sadism of Langeais and Montriveau’s love games, for which we have no interior reference, as well as the whirling of dancers as they glide around the room—that it outpaces even the darting tracks and pans of the camera at every moment.
December 11, 2015
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The Duchess of Langeais’s furnishings suggest a deep fidelity to the early-realist world of Balzac, with sparse, quality-over-quantity finery, but the narrative design calls to mind some strange Oulipian game. The film is a rather sober affair for Rivette—even the movie he made after Duchess, Around a Small Mountain, revolves around a circus tent—its gamesmanship more submerged.
April 16, 2013
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This is Rivette’s third film to draw from Balzac, but the first actually set in the Restoration period. This distinction may not be particularly important; his filmmaking has never, even when couched in the most contemporary of milieus, seemed the property of this century: who in this hectic millennium has time to watch such famously endless movies? This is much of what makes Rivette so likable; his work is so singular as to be completely improbable.
February 21, 2008
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