SECRET DÉFENSE

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SECRET DÉFENSE

Jacques Rivette
F, 1998
Fiction, 170min, OmeU

SECRET DÉFENSE

Jacques Rivette
F, 1998
Fiction, 170min, OmeU

Cast: 
Sandrine Bonnaire
Sylvie
Jerzy Radziwilowicz
Walser
Laure Marsac
Véronique/Ludivine
Grégoire Colin
Paul
Screenplay: 
Pascal Bonitzer
Emmanuelle Cuau
Jacques Rivette
Sound: 
Eric Vaucher
Camera: 
William Lubtchansky
Editor: 
Nicole Lubtchansky
Composer: 
Jordi Savall
Decoration: 
Manu de Chauvigny
Costume: 
Anne Autran

Production: 
Pierre Grise Productions
Format: 
35 mm
Color

Secret défense is an elegant, ascetic, and rigorous meta-thriller that updates the Greek tragedy of Electra and infuses its tale of filial revenge with the detached fatalism the young Rivette so admired in the later movies of Fritz Lang. Research scientist Sylvie has her routine rudely disrupted when her unstable younger brother, Paul, confronts her with evidence that their father’s accidental death five years ago may have been murder, committed by his partner, Walser.
Sandrine Bonnaire as Sylvie and Gregoire Colin as Paul are wearing masks, just as they would have for Euripides, and just as is the dourly mysterious Walser. The action is slow to develop until, more convinced of Paul’s craziness than Walser’s guilt, rational Sylvie decides to protect her brother by shooting Walser. The heart of the movie is then a 20-minute set piece in which, having resolved to commit murder, the driven Sylvie travels by train to Walser’s château. (Jim Hoberman)