The Princess of MontpensierNovember 3, 2010
Bertrand Tavernier is in top form with this gripping, superbly mounted drama set against the savage Catholic/Protestant wars that ripped France apart in the 16th century…
Release Year: 2010
Rating: 6.6/10 (1,108 voted)
Critic's Score: 78/100
Stars: Mélanie Thierry, Lambert Wilson, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet
Bertrand Tavernier is in top form with this gripping, superbly mounted drama set against the savage Catholic/Protestant wars that ripped France apart in the 16th century. Based on a novella by the celebrated Madame de Lafayette, the action centers on the love of Marie de Mezières for her dashing cousin Henri de Guise, thwarted when her father's political ambitions force her into marriage with the well-connected Philippe de Montpensier, who she has never met. When Philippe is called away to fight, she is left in the care of Count Chabannes, an aging nobleman with a disdain for warfare, and soon becomes exposed to the sexual and political intrigues of court.
Writers: Jean Cosmos, Madame de La Fayette
Princesse Marie de Montpensier
Comte de Chabannes
Prince de Montpensier
Henri de Guise
Anatole de Bodinat
Duc de Montpensier
Catherine de Guise
Marquis de Mézières
Cardinal de Lorraine
Marquise de Mézières
Duchesse de Montpensier
Passion Destroys Everything
Release Date: 3 November 2010
Filming Locations: Angers, Maine-et-Loire, France
Opening Weekend: $23,456
(17 April 2011)
(26 June 2011)
Flavours of love
My love affair with cinema started as a teenager with a chance viewing
of Patrice Chéreau's La reine Margot (1994) late one night on TV. It's
a lavish costume drama set at the same time as The Princess of
Montpensier including some of the same characters, both with key scenes
set during the St Bartholomew's Day Massacre in 1572. So this felt like
a return to the beginning for me, a special occasion.
I feared it may have been a wasted ticket at the start as it opens with
a rather bombastic action sequence that looked too staged and was
drowned by Hollywood "big music", ludicrous percussion-heavy
seat-shaking stuff. Perhaps Tavernier caught a bug working in the
States on In the Electric Mist. Of course such antics may be right up
your street if you are a Gladiator fan. By the way I felt the first
scene portrayed the Comte de Chabannes and cohorts as being too
reckless with their lives, unrealistically so.
However the film improved, and Chabannes cut an iconic figure in his
odd Spanish hat. The film was based on the short story of the same name
by Madame de La Fayette, which I definitely intend to read now.
The drama concerns the Princess of Montpensier (Mélanie Thierry) who is
loved by four very contrasting men. Will she choose the right one?
Haha, that would not be very interesting now would it? I think it's
somewhat of a breakout role for the stunning Mélanie Thierry, who has
been in some potboilers as well as having a very gamine role as the
passive object of Danny Boodmann T.D. Lemon Nineteen Hundred's
affections in Giuseppe Tornatore's The Legend of 1900 back in 1998. She
is the very essence of the type of woman that a man develops amour fou
for. The best casting decision I've seen all year for sure, though it
would have helped if Tavernier had been a better director of actors.
I did feel there was a strange lack of pathos in the movie, I think
generally a director requires actors to emote, to show what they are
thinking on their faces. This is the great artifice of cinema. I've
seen a few Tavernier films and I don't think he likes to get them doing
that. In a way I think that makes the movie quite abstract. The plot is
so sheerly powerful by itself that I was enraptured.
I like the way the movie quotes the sentiments from Hebrews Chapter 11
Verse 1: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence
of things not seen." Faith is something that we've lost to a degree in
western life, making life seem a pointless charade. Good watching.
10/10 as I'm a sentimental fool.
To Claire, impertinently.