Rivette’s adaptation of Balzac’s novella (contained in his History of the Thirteen, which figured centrally in Rivette’s earlier Out 1) is a costume drama unlike any other, a playful yet moody meditation on the maddening games bound up in courtship. General Armand de Montriveau (Guillaume Depardieu), having returned from the Napoleonic Wars with a limp and a brooding demeanor, quickly becomes enamored of the Duchess Antoinette de Langeais (Jeanne Balibar, hypnotic in her elusiveness and capriciousness). But across a series of nocturnal, candle-lit visitations, the Duchess mercilessly toys with her hot-tempered suitor, as the machinations of a shadowy conspiracy unfold in the background… An absorbing exploration of the selfish passions and competing agendas rumbling beneath the surface of social gentility.