Secret Défense
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Innovative director Jacques Rivette created the memorable, multi-leveled classic Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974), seemingly the inspiration for Susan Seidelman's Desperately Seeking Susan (1985). Rivette generates a far-different mood in this French-Swiss-Italian murder mystery. Medical researcher Sylvie (Sandrine Bonnaire) is keeping late lab hours when she catches her brother Paul (Gregoire Colin) with her gun. Having discovered a five-year-old photo with new evidence of their father's death, Paul wants to kill Walser (Jerzy Radziwilowicz), who now heads their dad's high-tech… More
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"With suave and feline images by the cinematographer William Lubtchansky, Rivette offers a virtual documentary on modern bourgeois solitude ..."
‑ Richard Brody, New Yorker
"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."
‑ Stephen Holden, New York Times
"The film will either draw you in (as Rivette's best films can), or simply wear you out."
‑ Ken Fox, TV Guide's Movie Guide
"Sandrine Bonnaire is a good reason to see this unconventional thriller that isn't quite a thriller -- yet it is."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"The brooding intimations of Greek tragedy are part of what keeps this 170-minute thriller fascinating throughout."
‑ Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"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."
‑ J. Hoberman, Village Voice
"Rivette stretches the proceedings out to 2 hours and 45 minutes, gradually revealing little bits of the puzzle to us and ending on a perfect, sublime note."
‑ Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid
"Rivette uses this time to flesh out his characters and their actions to the point where the movie feels closer to a novel than cinema."
‑ Jeremy Heilman, MovieMartyr.com
"For all its mysteries, the movie thoroughly repudiates suspense."
‑ , Time Out
"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."
‑ , Film4
"An icy thriller from Rivette."
‑ Jeffrey M. Anderson, San Francisco Examiner
"Yes, it's long, but Bonnaire holds it together with a statuesques and human performance, and whilst not Rivette's best, this is still a fascinating example of his work."
‑ David Parkinson, Empire Magazine
More reviews for Secret Défense on Rotten Tomatoes