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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Secret Defence by Rivette
This is the second film by Rivette I've seen. I had quite low expectations as I didn't like "Paris Nous Appartient" at all. But "Secret Defence", made over 30 years later, is a really good film (and maybe Rivette isn't a bad director after all?..).
The plot is based on a mystery: a father (powerful businessman) who died and his children who suspect foul play...
Published on 3 Nov. 2010 by MarkusG

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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Long and uneventful
I read the description of this film and thought it would be a good thriller and enjoyable like most other french films I have seen. However, it dragged on and on and nothing much happened. Although there was a storyline, I felt there were many pointless and unnecessary scenes which elongated the film.
Published on 31 Oct. 2010 by Ann Henry


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Secret Defence by Rivette, 3 Nov. 2010
By 
MarkusG "Markus" (Stockholm, Sweden) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Secret Defense [DVD] [1998] (DVD)
This is the second film by Rivette I've seen. I had quite low expectations as I didn't like "Paris Nous Appartient" at all. But "Secret Defence", made over 30 years later, is a really good film (and maybe Rivette isn't a bad director after all?..).
The plot is based on a mystery: a father (powerful businessman) who died and his children who suspect foul play. Interestingly, being a suspense-film "Secret Defence" is almost 3 hours long, and moves in a slow tempo! I think this make it all the better, partly because - in contrast to all crap being made each year - here we have good actors and interesting persons and a non-predictable plot. Why would you like to speed up a movie that feels good to watch?
The transfer of this Artificial Eye DVD is ok or even good I think, at least it looked good on my epson projector (upscaled by a bluray player).
Highly recommended!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Defense Isn't Always The Best Solution, 10 Oct. 2009
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DL Productions UK (Merseyside, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Secret Defense [DVD] [1998] (DVD)
Sandrine Bonnaire (Jeanne La Pucelle - The Battles [DVD] [1994]) stars as Sylvie - a young laboratory worker, who has a brother, Paul (Grégoire Colin) who thinks he knows what happened to their father back in 1992, as he was travelling on a Michelin train; when it's believed he fell off the train. Many, including her mother say it was just an accident, but Paul convinces Sylvie that it is not - and they go off to confront the killer, but when they get there, things don't go to plan, and it leaves them in a mystery.

I can't praise this film enough, it's a masterpiece and is just so well directed, and written. Both Sandrine and Jerzy Radziwilowicz really show us they're amazing actors and should have won awards for this movie, the way it twists and turns, the beautiful scenery, and the colours make this a dream to watch. It probably won't appeal to people who don't like film noir, or don't enjoy long periods of dialogue, but this really is worth the wait, and the whole anticipation throughout the 2 hours 45 minutes is breath taking, and the emotions shown are more realistic than some movies I have seen.

The DVD is not too bad, a DVD9 disk, but it's pretty much bare bones, which I suspected with such a long film. It is a shame it didn't get a 2 disk edition with some extras and interviews with Sandrine or Jerzy, that would have been fantastic, but really we're left with quite a mediocre transfer, but the sound is good and the picture is decent enough, the colours vibrant and nicely balanced. The subtitles are easy to turn off if you want too which is a godsend for French speakers. The font and clarity is good too, and should be not too much trouble to sit through the 3hrs this movie runs for. They really should have removed the trailers though, and given more bandwidth to the picture, which runs at a steady 5MB/s.

This is worth renting, it's amazing and well written, and worth watching again and again.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Rivette's best, 24 Nov. 2009
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R. Napier (Wiltshire England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Secret Defense [DVD] [1998] (DVD)
The difference between the professional critics' praise of this film and the lukewarm response of customers on, for example, Amazon France is striking. Having just watched Secret Defense, I feel I ought to present a counterweight to the preceding review - not because this a poor film but because I feel it isn't quite that good.

I'm a fan of French films in general and Rivette's in particular. His best films for me are his arty ones, like La Belle Noiseuse, La Bande des Quatre (Gang of Four) L'Amour par Terre (Love on the Ground) and Va Savoir, where he explores the relationship between art or drama and reality. They tend to be over-long, but a leisurely style suits these films and gives him the opportunity to produce some memorable sequences.

Not so with this film. It simply isn't taut enough to excel as a thriller. The best French thrillers I've watched, with plenty of plot twists, are Cluzot's Les Diaboliques and Chabrol's La Rupture. They run to around two hours. Secret Defense is about 50 minutes longer and that's too long to prevent the suspense from flagging. I also have some reservations about the plot; particularly the ending, which left me feeling somewhat let down.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "A rhythmic and distinguished thriller...", 9 Dec. 2011
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This review is from: Secret Defense [DVD] [1998] (DVD)
Former French New Wave director and writer Jacques Rivette`s seventeenth feature film, written by himself, his frequent collaborator Pascal Bonitzer and Emmanuelle Cuau, tells the story of medical researcher Sylvie who becomes alarmingly unsettled when her younger brother Paul claims that he can prove that their deceased father was actually killed by his closest colleague named Walser. Puzzled by her brothers questionable discovery she sets out on a private investigation that leads her into a personal odyssey.

Precisely directed and brilliantly structured, this subtle and character-driven neo-noir from one of the greatest auteur filmmakers in cinema history is a rhythmic and distinguished thriller about a woman who has to go on a deep voyage into her own past in order to learn the truth about her family. The long runtime which is a Jacques Rivette hallmark, the efficient editing, the quick-witted dialogue and William Lubtchansky`s atmospheric photography, increases the mystery in this late 1990s small masterpiece which has aspects of drama and theatre, a prominent performance from Sandrine Bonnaire as the female protagonist and a harmonic score. The love for cinema shines in so many of Jacques Rivette`s films, and this is no exception.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Long and uneventful, 31 Oct. 2010
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This review is from: Secret Defense [DVD] [1998] (DVD)
I read the description of this film and thought it would be a good thriller and enjoyable like most other french films I have seen. However, it dragged on and on and nothing much happened. Although there was a storyline, I felt there were many pointless and unnecessary scenes which elongated the film.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Rivette fan loved it, 7 Feb. 2010
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This review is from: Secret Defense [DVD] [1998] (DVD)
I thought this was a fantastic film and a great starting point for anyone not familiar with the work of the marvellous Jaques Rivette.

The ever excellent Sandrine Bonnaire helps create an atmosphere of tension and menace, and I thought it worked perfectly as a thriller.

I knew nothing about the plot or subject matter before watching, so I had no prior expectations, and I think that's the secret to Rivette's films.

Let the film take you with it and enjoy - his films never conform to gendre expectations or limitations, and he is never formulaic.

And that in a nutshell, is the genius of Jacques Rivette.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Appalling, 15 Feb. 2014
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G. Cartmel (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Secret Defense [DVD] [1998] (DVD)
I like picking up films that are different from the norm, just for some variety.... but this was really bad, and far worse that I was led to believe it would be. Poor acting, poor story... don't bother with it.
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Secret Defense [DVD] [1998]
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