The most extraordinary feature of this historical epic is its visual design. Rohmer has used modern technology to map the actors onto backgrounds derived from period paintings. The effect is both beautiful, and strangely disconcerting. Certainly, it adds to the stagey feel of what sometimes feels more like a dramatised history lesson than a personal narrative. While the events of the Revolution are undoubtedly dramatic, most of them occur off-screen - including, astonishingly, the final arrest, imprisonment, and execution of a key character.
All this leaves for the audience is a great deal of expositional discussion about who's in danger from whom, and why. There's a great deal of travelling, petitioning, searching of houses and sending of letters, but nothing much seems to come of it. Of course, the film may play better to a French audience, more aware of the context and meaning of each political reversal. But without that understanding, or at least an increased sense of personal danger, what should be a gripping study of a relationship torn apart by the demands of history becomes stilted and repetitive. The Lady & The Duke is a beautiful film, but ultimately something of a missed opportunity.
The DVD has Dolby digital 5.1 sound; French with English subtitles. Only disc extra is the original trailer.