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869 Ratings


Duelle (une quarantaine)

Directed by Jacques Rivette
France, 1976
Avant-Garde, Fantasy, Mystery
  • French
  • English


Jacques Rivette’s Duelle chronicles the strange battle among a pair of beings from the sphere of the sun or moon, who take the form of women and fight over a magical diamond or a young man in the bars, hotels, and mystical power-spots of modern-day Paris.

Our take

A phantasmagoric noir from Jacques Rivette, whose free-form tales of conspiracy and game-playing inspire clandestine fervor. Rivette followed his masterpiece Celine and Julie Go Boating with Duelle, championed by the Quinzaine, and starring the great Juliet Berto and Bulle Ogier.

Duelle Directed by Jacques Rivette
The transposition of myth and fairytale to a contemporary Paris setting has precedent in Cocteau, and invocations of film noir provide comfortable aesthetic and narrative reference points. As the quotes above suggest, however, these anchors are merely the framework for something far more challenging and ineffable.
December 03, 2018
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Rivette counter-intuitively couches this florid fairy-tale material in a hard-bitten film-noir framework, going so far as to toss in explicit visual references to The Lady from Shanghai and The Big Sleep. There’s even a callback to Celine and Julie when trenchcoat-clad taxi dancer Elsa (Nicole Garcia) inexpertly trails Viva through the streets. Duelle achieves its most surreal and poetic effects through the cognitive dissonance of this sort of generic juxtaposition.
June 14, 2017
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The strength of Berto’s performance comes from the intersection of this non-naturalistic line of acting with a silent-era quality she bears naturally: her photogénie. And in her case, the photogenic energy is even more original because it is freed from the male gaze of yesteryear. Berto attacks that dominance with a character that is distant, queer, and unpredictably powerful.
May 03, 2016
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