Jacques Rivette creates another refined and sublimely enrapturing composition in The Story of Marie and Julien, a film that ostensibly chronicles the relationship between a brooding, reclusive restorer of antique clocks and occasional blackmailer named Julien (Jerzy Radziwilowicz) and the elusive object of his affection, a beautiful and enigmatic woman named Marie (Emmanuelle Béart) whom he had once known at a time when both were emotionally unavailable. As the film opens, a pensive Julien sits on a park bench and begins to experience an unsettling, prescient dream involving his passing acquaintance, Marie, and in the process, betrays a sense of regret and missed opportunity at their seemingly star-crossed romantic fate. Now, a year later, his haunted, unrequited melancholy now seems entirely reconcilable when he runs into a hurried Marie once again while she rushes to catch a bus at a busy intersection and he, to an appointment with the subject of his blackmail: a woman called Madame X (Anne Brochet) who had perhaps murdered her sister. Illustrating familiar Rivette imagery of interweaving parallel realities, manifestation of the subconscious, and elliptical mystery, the film evolves into a gorgeously hypnotic, slow simmering, and smoldering tone piece on chance, connection, and destiny.
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