The film takes a somewhat predictable turn to tragedy, but it was startling to me because up until then I had been watching a very funny comedy of manners . . . Douce is a highly entertaining, well-written, if somewhat mannered example of a very high quality of filmmaking indeed.
The one catch was that the rip was unsubtitled, which presented me with the dilemma of whether I should proceed with watching . . . What strikes me most is how insular the film feels - it's all filmed on sets, largely interiors, with exteriors taking place in night streets and alleys taking place at night. Knowing that this was a production under German-controlled Vichy adds to this feeling of confinement. The stage-bound artifice also adds a dollhouse fairy-tale like quality.
Autant-Lara's exquisite blend of social commentary, lush romanticism, and opulent sets and costumes--he began his career as a designer--vividly re-creates France's belle epoque and recalls Orson Welles's The Magnificent Ambersons both thematically and in its deep-focus exploration of interior space.