There is always a coldness (a byproduct of precision?) that accompanies Rivette's stagy staging of novels. And he is usually dealing in hotblooded content. The idea of a pristine surface covering a tumultuous seething chaos speaks to me, and Rivette does it very well. (Imagine Andrzej Żuławski's version of Wuthering Heights, w/ people throwing one another off walls etc.) Unfortunately Fabienne Babe is pretty awful.
Quel jeu et quelle direction d'acteurs ... comme Kazan ... les personnages se cherchent et s'affrontent dans un huis clos particulièrement dur ... et quelque peu trop théatral en 2ème partie. Great acting and direction of actors ... as with Kazan characters seek and compete in a particularly hard way behind closed doors ... and somewhat too theatrical in part 2.
It's obvious that Rivette has absolute control and conscience over everything in this film: but for me most of it is wrong. A story so full of passion, romanticism and supernatural ressonance cannot be treated with such realistic and inexpressive forms. Rivette reduces everything to the clash and movement of bodies within the frame, but most times a close-up would contain all the passion required. A matter of choice.
Rivette and Bonitzer removed the romance in their adaptation of 'Wuthering Heights' concentrating on pain and misery instead. The decision to make Catherine a vain, opportunistic, frail creature sinks the picture especially with weak lead performances by Babe and Belvaux. Rivette's framing and mise-en-scene stand out as does cinematography by Berta. Not the worst Bronte adaptation but certainly not one of the better.
Rivette captures Emily Bronte's demented nursery of wise servants and foolish masters perfectly, because it turns out that her characters were really Rivette people all along: private, sad, feeling like they're going crazy, feeling set up and unready for life, behaving badly now and then but only to feel free, and always paying for it. This is a masterpiece.