Screened as part of NZIFF 2008

The Duchess of Langeais 2007

Ne touchez pas la hache

Directed by Jacques Rivette

Jeanne Balibar and Guillaume Depardieu are superb in this adaptation of Balzac's tale of drawing room passion. "A nearly impeccable work of art – beautiful, true, profound." — NY Times

France / Italy In French with English subtitles
137 minutes 35mm



Jacques Rivette
Pascal Bonitzer
Christine Laurent. Based on the novella by Honoré de Balzac


William Lubtchansky


Pierre Allio


Jeanne Balibar
Guillaume Depardieu
Bulle Ogier
Michel Piccoli
Barbet Schroeder


Berlin, Toronto, Vancouver, London 2007


Jacques Rivette’s adaptation of Balzac’s tale of drawing room passion is superbly played by two strikingly odd actors, Jeanne Balibar and Guillaume Depardieu. She’s the aristocratic Antoinette, a seasoned coquette who mocks the awkward courtship of her socially clumsy suitor, a Napoleonic General and war hero. Pushing him too far, she finds herself becoming the pursuer. Though grounded in the theatricality of the salon and the mores of another time, the drama of unresolved mutual addiction is constantly startling and utterly persuasive in its psychological veracity. — BG.

“Poised and incandescent, this was one of the year’s great acting films, with Jeanne Balibar staking her place as one of the great screen performers of the moment… A film that’s entirely classic, yet entirely new and, more importantly, alive.“ — Jonathan Romney, Sight & Sound.