This Cannes Grand Prix-winning film was a major departure for the great French director Eric Rohmer, who temporarily abandoned his usual studies of lovelorn and philosophically inclined compatriots in favour of a German-language costume adaptation of a novel by Goethe s contemporary Heinrich von Kleist. Visually ravishing (it was inspired by 18th-century painting, and the cinematographer is the great Nestor Almendros, who works wonders with candle-light), it tells the story of a widowed noblewoman (Edith Clever) who inadvertently finds herself pregnant two years after her husband s death, a situation guaranteed to inflame the prejudices of the era (not least those of her family) especially since she genuinely doesn t know who the father is, and has to place a newspaper advertisement inviting him to come forward. Bruno Ganz (Wings of Desire, Downfall) is the charming Russian count who seems to know more about the marquise s predicament than she herself does.
A fascinating and sympathetic portrait of an abused woman is given life and depth by Rohmer's eloquent direction. --Film4.com