The Duchess of Langeais (Ne Touchez Pas La Hache)(Don't Touch the Axe)
Want to See
Not Interested
Rate it ½ star
Rate it 1 star
Rate it 1½ stars
Rate it 2 stars
Rate it 2½ stars
Rate it 3 stars
Rate it 3½ stars
Rate it 4 stars
Rate it 4½ stars
Rate it 5 stars
The Duchess of Langeais (Ne Touchez Pas La Hache)(Don't Touch the Axe)
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… More
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 70%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"It's charged with nuance yet ultimately an exercise in compressed literary adaptation."
‑ Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"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."
‑ Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
"Well-acted literary period drama based on the 1834 novella La Duchesse de Langeais by Honore Balzac."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"The Duchess of Langeais is a romantic dance of death."
‑ Michael Sragow, Baltimore Sun
"If you like multi-arced episodes of Masterpiece (formerly Masterpiece Theatre), the pacing might work in this padded film. As it was, experiencing this in real time was akin to watching two snails race on a muddy track."
‑ Adam Fendelman,
"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."
‑ Stephanie Zacharek,
"The Duchess of Langeais is a stately costume drama of wrenching passions expressed in courtly phrases."
‑ Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Visually arresting period drama finds the core of the emotional life of its characters in the debate between the duchess and the general about love. Balzac fans will delight."
‑ Nora Lee Mandel,
"Of course, it would also help if we could understand what's supposed to be so alluring about the title character, Antoinette de Langeais."
‑ Jeff Vice, Deseret News, Salt Lake City
"A remote and chilly exercise, more museum piece than movie."
‑ Frank Swietek, One Guy's Opinion
"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."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"Jacques Rivette's Duchess of Langeais seems to me a nearly impeccable work of art -- beautiful, true, profound."
‑ Manohla Dargis, New York Times
"Balibar's sly mouth tightens with mean glee as she plays all the Duchesses' games, and Depardieu's brooding, battered face ceaselessly signals the General's suppressed, sexualized violence."
‑ Dan Callahan, Slant Magazine
"Stands with some of the best efforts of Rivette's long career."
‑ Marjorie Baumgarten, Austin Chronicle
"Classy? Yes,"
‑ Chris Hewitt (St. Paul), St. Paul Pioneer Press