The Princess of Montpensier review
:. Director: Bertrand Tavernier
:. Starring: Mélanie Thierry, Lambert Wilson
:. Running Time: 2:19
:. Year: 2010
:. Country: France
During his presentation at Cannes, Bertrand Tavernier had explained at a press conference his intentions with his period piece, La Princesse de Montpensier, adapted from a short story by Madame de La Fayette: by centering the film on the feelings of the main protagonists, that of four men vying for the favors of a woman, and giving the project a certain universality, or a certain modernity, that would take it beyond its historical context.
1562: France, governed by Charles IX, is a war-torn nation. Marie de Mézières is in love with the Duke of Guise, marries the Prince of Montpensier, who instructs the Count of Chabannes to educate the lady in question The Duke of Anjou, the future Henry III, is added to this trio of suitors when he takes up residence in Champigny where Mary spends her time brooding.
From the first shots of the film, we see that none of the intentions expressed by Tavernier end up on screen. Benefiting from a rather substantial budget, The Princess of Montpensier is more of a good quality television series, but proves to be a complete wreck on the big screen. The battle scenes feel like rushed choreography, extras waiting patiently for a main character to come through the frame for their blade to give them a fatal blow, the duels between the heroes feel like good advice from the fencing coach, and the corpses are placed exactly in the right spot. A lot of artificiality that does little for the credibility of the film. The directing appears uneven. Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet, who portrays the Prince of Montpensier, seems to be reciting the part in a play staged for a block party organized by the local youth association, while Melanie Thierry giggles and weeps leaving us unconcerned for her fate. Her performance makes her character so bland that one comes to wonder why so many men are fighting over her. Only Gaspard Ulliel and Raphael Personnaz manage to hold their game (if we put aside the fight scenes, too artificial to be believed), the first is all savage virility, and masculine brutality, while the latter is comfortable in the skin of a future Henri III, traditionally represented as a sissy, but engaged here in a highly nuanced interpretation, applying intelligently the coquetry of the character added to a certain sophistication. For the rest, Tavernier completely misses his endeavor and delivers a fresco kneaded in superficiality. A failure.
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