The Duchess of Langeais (Ne Touchez Pas La Hache)(Don't Touch the Axe) (2007) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Duchess of Langeais (Ne Touchez Pas La Hache)(Don't Touch the Axe) (2007)



Critic Consensus: At times plodding and dialogue heavy, The Duchess of Langeais is nevertheless an intriguing and rewarding dissection of class and gender relations.

The Duchess of Langeais (Ne Touchez Pas La Hache)(Don't Touch the Axe) Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Guillaume Depardieu, Jeanne Balibar, and Michel Piccoli star in director Jacques Rivette's adaptation of the Balzac novella The Duchesse de Langeais, which tells the tale of a Parisian socialite who is romantically pursued by a Napoleonic war hero. The story begins as grieving French general Armand de Montriveau (Depardieu) arrives at a Majorcan church to speak with French nun Antionette le Langeais (Balibar). General de Montriveau believes le Langeais to be a woman he once loved dearly, but eventually lost. As the pair is reunited under the watchful eyes of the presiding priest and mother superior, their romantic past gradually comes into focus. It was five years ago that bored socialite Antoinette first became enamored with the wounded soldier whose rousing tales of adventure offered exciting contrast to her highly refined lifestyle. Though she was married at the time, the coquettish cosmopolitan quickly fell under the spell of the commanding military man -- who vowed that very night that Antoinette would be his lover. As their romance grows more complicated, the passionate pair finds it increasingly difficult to deny the powerful connection that binds them.more
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Romance, Art House & International
Directed By:
Written By: Pascal Bonitzer, Christine Laurent, Jacques Rivette
In Theaters:
On DVD: Aug 12, 2008
IFC First Take - Official Site


Jeanne Balibar
as Antoinette de Langea...
Guillaume Depardieu
as Armand de Montriveau
Michel Piccoli
as Vidame de Pamiers
Bulle Ogier
as Princess de Blamont-...
Anne Cantineau
as Clara de Serizy
Julie Judd
as Lisette
Marc Barbé
as Marquis de Ronquerol...
Nicolas Bouchaud
as De Trailles
Thomas Durand
as De Marsay
Victoria Zinny
as Mother Superior
Barbet Schroeder
as Le duc de Grandieu
Birgit Ludwig
as Diane de Maufrigneus...
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Duchess of Langeais (Ne Touchez Pas La Hache)(Don't Touch the Axe)

Critic Reviews for The Duchess of Langeais (Ne Touchez Pas La Hache)(Don't Touch the Axe)

All Critics (67) | Top Critics (27)

It's charged with nuance yet ultimately an exercise in compressed literary adaptation.

Full Review… | December 17, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Maybe even Rivette himself is a little too delicate for this ferocious, intensely focused pair. But he's fascinated by them, and ultimately, he loves them.

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Top Critic

The everyday moviegoer will find it as impenetrable as its heroine. But if you vibrate to nuances of style, if you enjoy tension gathering strength beneath terrible restraint, if you admire great acting, then you will.

Full Review… | June 20, 2008
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

The director guides the viewer through a sly consideration of near-sociopathic not-quite-lovers, one of whom finds refuge in religion, the other in romantic obsession.

Full Review… | June 19, 2008
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

The Duchess of Langeais is a stately costume drama of wrenching passions expressed in courtly phrases.

Full Review… | May 9, 2008
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

Jacques Rivette's Duchess of Langeais seems to me a nearly impeccable work of art -- beautiful, true, profound.

April 14, 2008
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Duchess of Langeais (Ne Touchez Pas La Hache)(Don't Touch the Axe)

[font=Century Gothic]In "The Duchess of Langeais," it is 1823 and Marquis de Montriveau(Guillaume Depardieu) finally locates Antoinette(Jeanne Balibar), the former Duchess of Langeais, in a convent in Cadiz. Five years previously, they meet at a salon given by Clara de Serizy(Anne Cantineau). At the time, he is a military hero who had been held captive in Africa for two years. And it may be for that reason that she is intrigued by him, even though he is something of a dullard. After their first evening together, she hands him an open invitation to return anytime. At which point, he is convinced that she will become his mistress.(There is a Duke of Langeais but he is never seen.)[/font]
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[font=Century Gothic]"The Duchess of Langeais," a relatively brief film from Jacques Rivette, is a pointed look at the aristocracy, in its ascendancy following the fall of Napoleon. With little to do during the day, all they are left with to fill their time are social engagements and balls. And it may be for this very reason that Langeais leads along Montriveau. Remember, a duchess trumps a marquis and rank is everything. For the marquis, an imperialist officer, conquest is everything.[/font]
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[font=Century Gothic]But the human element is missing. And I think that is definitely due to the performances which are key in any predominantly two person drama.(Remember "Gabrielle" and "Miss Julie"(1999) for instance.) Depardieu is satisfactory enough but Balibar is definitely lacking. Old pros like Michel Piccoli and Bulle Ogier show the youngsters how it is done.[/font]

Walter M.

Super Reviewer


Unfortunately this is the end for Guillaume Depardieu and it isn't as polished as other period pieces that I am more taken with.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer


Very playful but also quite stuffy and theatrical. I guess Rivette was trying to show how society's romantic rituals are nothing more than theatrics but I don't care for any of its characters. It's like what the Last Mistress would have been if it was focused on the battle of wills between its characters instead of lust.

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