Like pouring yourself a warm glass of milk or slipping into a hot bath, the languid and visually sumptuous romance lulls you into a sleepy sense of calm, never asking for more than gentle aesthetic appreciation for its impeccable craft.
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The lack of light irony, refined humor and spontaneity and freshness in the dialogue makes the film feel much more heavy-handed than a tale like this should be. For most of the nearly three-hour running time, it all plays as droningly serious, which makes the already long film feel much longer.
Léa Seydoux’s hypnotic performance helps keep the film from sinking too fast into utter boredom.
Divided into seven quirkily titled chapters which are only useful as a kind of interminable countdown, “Story” falls into every trap of the over-reverential adaptation: individual scenes go on too long, there are far too many of them, and everyone sounds like they’re reading when they speak.
Seydoux is as charismatic and minxy as always, but the role of Lizzie is maddeningly elusive and underdeveloped. Perhaps the main disappointment of the picture, aside from its lifeless and conventional approach, is the fact that it is so preoccupied with the leaden Jakob, while his mercurial, treacherous wife is a far more interesting character.