DIRECTOR: PATRICE CHEREAU
COUNTRY: FRANCE 1994
CINEMATOGRAPHY: PHILIPPE ROUSSELOT
MUSIC: GORAN BREGOVIC
CAST: Daniel Auteuil (Henri de Navarre), Isabelle Adjani (Margot), Jean-Hughes Anglade (Louis IX), Vincent Perez (La Mole), Virna Lisi (Queen Catherine), Jean Claude Briarly (Coligny), Dominique Blanc (Henriette)
SUPER FEATURES: Excellent acting. Well written.
Not since Ken Russell's THE DEVILS has a film come up so brutal, and yet so well pointed in its purpose. Generally, brutality is used as a
literal example of the viciousness which people tend to have towards each other. More often than not, it comes out as selfish, meaningless
and rather pathetic. Like THE DEVILS, this film, does have its share of carnage and intoxicating images, which could easily make the very
church sick, knowing the image that it has carried for many years.
But I suppose that it is the fact that this film easily attacks the religious sense behind it, that makes it stand out as THE DEVILS did. As such, it is not a film for just about anyone. But aside from its carnal instinct, it is a marvelous film, that tells its story very well. It also, clearly, shows why the French had so many internal problems, one of which could be excused so easily on the church and the faith that was accepted by the throne and the royalty.
It was 1572, when the french crown is making an attempt to extend itself, and find a way to make the country stronger. And for it to do that, it had to set up several marriages of convenience. And some of these marriages were not perfect, although others worked. This one involved
the King's sister, who was to marry Henri of Navarre, with the idea of bringing the independent area with long ties to the Spanish crown under wraps. But to make matters difficult, the Navarre area, had embraced the protestant faith, which did not sit well with the Queen mother Catherine, and the jealous brothers.
And the unhappy marriage is not consummated for quite sometime, as they seem to be having their own problems of acceptance of each other. Margot, independent of spirit and body, still, on occasion takes to the streets to pick up a man for a few strokes. And one day, she comes across one that is far better of a lover than others. La Mole becomes a dream for her, and, as is everything else that she likes, he also happens to be sided with the protestants.
The revenging brother tries to kill the king, and Henri de Navarre, so he himself can become king. And eventually, be it one of his mother's ploys or his own, they finally succeed in killing the king. And a puppet is set up. La Mole becomes the perfect case. With one swing, the new king will have gotten rid of two tormentors. And Margot will have been destroyed.
The end states that Margot exiled herself to Navarre and though she divorced Henri, they remained friends for a long time. The new king
of France, got there by the death of his own brother who may have been accidentally poisoned by one of the mother's ploys to get rid
The film is incredibly well photographed, and like THE DEVILS, it also brings across the serenity after the terrible destruction. It also uses music very nicely. But the serenity only lasts a while until another charge takes place.
While the film may not quite be a great expose of the French history, it does show, clearly, the corruption that was around these courts, and how many got to where they were. As long as they are in favor, they went along with the courts. And as soon as they were out of favor, they were dead. That simple. And at all turns, the new king is thanking God for his good fortunes, which were quite good, even if he had to protect himself.
Isabelle Adjani is excellent, in an impossible role, as is Vincent Perez as her lover. The rest of the cast is well suited, and all the visible characters are well rehearsed and well designed. It's hard to find something out of place.
A great film, though the brutality will turn many people off. But it is very well done.
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