Secret Defense (5 stars)

Secret Defense

Veteran New Wave filmmaker Jacques Rivette (Paris Nous Appartient, La Belle Noiseuse, Celine and Julie Go Boating) explores the sins of the past. Rivette regular Sandrine Bonnaire plays Parisian research scientist Sylvie Rousseau. When her brother shows her a picture, it looks like their father’s business partner was implicated in his death some years before.

Sylvie heads south intent on killing Jerzy Radziwilowicz’s lubricious manipulator and Rivette does several things that make this, if you like, a palpable rather than a narrative driven conspiracy thriller. He slows everything down so that every moment has potential menace; he keeps the revelations vague and slightly improbable, and uses the everyday sound of objects dropped into silence instead of using a score.

If most filmmakers show that conspiracy is contained by the story and generic baddies and corporations, Rivette masterfully suggests that within any plot there is another lurking, and uses naturalistic means to give us a sense of paranoia beyond the frame. Minimal extras.

(15) 166 min
(Artificial Eye DVD retail)