Secret Défense (1999)
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Critic Reviews for Secret Défense
With suave and feline images by the cinematographer William Lubtchansky, Rivette offers a virtual documentary on modern bourgeois solitude ...
The brooding intimations of Greek tragedy are part of what keeps this 170-minute thriller fascinating throughout.
Hermetic and somewhat opaque, this perfectly symmetrical tragedy is not for every taste. For those willing to enter the Rivette zone, however, it's a chess puzzle devised by a grand master.
As the glacially paced film inches forward with its halting conversations and accusatory glances, it tests your patience. And when the truth ultimately tumbles out and more violence erupts, don't expect a catharsis.
Thanks to Bonnaire's characteristically intelligent performance, the circumlocutions hold some interest, proving again that since her discovery by Pialat she has become the most uncompromising of French actresses.
Audience Reviews for Secret Défense
Calling this movie "deliberately paced" is understatement, but a patient viewer will appreciate its meditative approach to storytelling. Long train rides never seemed so meaningful.
A meditative anti-thriller-cum-Electra adaptation that broods along and unravels slowly. This is easily the most conventional Rivette film, focusing more on sketching out the characters' psychological terrain than any of his other works, though the film's style and narrative structure is pure Rivette, including a set of characters who repeats the same set of actions until the narrative reaches its conclusion. While this has served Rivette well in his films about theater and cinematic deconstruction, it works just as well here because Rivette is more interested in examining the process and circumstances causing the major narrative actions rather than the actions themselves. Bonnaire is excellent.
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