The Lady and the Duke
To dramatize the story of Grace Elliott (Lucy Russell), an Englishwoman whose memoir of life during the French revolution is the basis of this elegant, politically polite production entitled The Lady and the Duke, the redoubtable 82-year-old Eric Rohmer (”Autumn Tale”) employed modern digital techniques to create exquisite mise-en-scenes in which real actors step in and out of painted historical backdrops. The technique is impressive. But it would count for little if the human story — of a magnetic, resourceful, and, in the way of all Rohmer heroines, articulate woman who was mistress to the Duke of Orleans (Jean-Claude Dreyfus) — weren’t engrossing on its own dramatic terms. As portrayed by Russell (who costarred in Christopher Nolan’s ”Following”) with spirited level-headedness, Grace was a great dame whose fame for being the favorite of powerful men overshadowed the importance of her life as a resilient survivor and chronicler of one of the most dramatic democratic revolutions in history.