On a mission to reinstate the Spanish king Ferdinand VII, French General Armand de Montriveau leads his troops to a Spanish island. For five long years he has scoured every convent in Europe and the New World in search of a woman he once loved desperately who has now disappeared without trace. Here at last, he finds her. He asks to speak to the nun, Thérèse ... Paris, five years earlier. The restoration has triumphed, ushering in an era of hypocrisy, superficiality and avarice. Antoinette de Navarreins, the coquette wife of the Duke of Langeais, is a product of the epoch. Armand de Montriveau falls hopelessly in love with her the moment he sees her, and it would appear that his love is reciprocated. However, the duchess makes use of all her fashionable wiles to toy with his affections. Montriveau tries in vain to obtain irrefutable proof of her love for him, but Antoinette rebuffs him, hypocritically citing religious grounds. During a ball, Armand points to Antoinette's neck and recalls a trip to West minster: "Don't touch the axe" were the words of the guard on showing him the weapon used to behead Charles I. From this moment on, Armand de Montriveau decides to ignore his inamoratas and do everything in his power to get his revenge ... Based on a novella from Balzac's "Comédie Humaine", Jacques Rivette's latest work is part of "The Story of the 13", an ominous and powerful secret organisation which was also the mysterious force pulling the strings in Rivette's major contemporary work OUT 1.
by Jacques Rivette
with Jeanne Balibar, Guillaume Depardieu, Bulle Ogier, Michel Piccoli
France / Italy 2006