There’s nothing like a good old religious Civil War to get the juices flowing in any period costume drama. In this case it’s in France in 1564 and the Protestants are fighting the Catholics (yet again) on whose God is better etc. Also the source of another battle at the same time is the hand of Marie de Mezieres an aristocratic beauty who has the hots for dashing scar-faced Henri de Guise, but her father the Marquis commits her to marrying Prince of Montpensier after he strikes up a good deal with his father.
The Prince seems a good sort of chap, although somewhat shy he is smitten with his new wife, but has the misfortune of being summoned back to the War by the King the day after his wedding. He entrusts his new bride into the care of his mentor the Comte de Chabannes, who himself was a heroic soldier until he participated in one atrocity too many and became a conscientious objector. The Comte soon falls for the beauty of his new charge and becomes the latest man to fall in love with her.
Her next obsessed admirer is the Duc D’Anjou, the Kings brother, and it is his desire and ultimate jealous that not only adds to the mounting chaos around the Princess but kick-starts the unraveling of her life, and the lives of all her would-be suitors.
This is a visually stunning movie with unrivaled cinematography with its great vistas in the rolling French countryside and its spectacular battle scenes. A tad to long, it’s captivating story sadly falls short simply because Melanie Laurent as the Princess lacks the necessary chemistry that convinces you that all these men would fall under her spell. Particularly the older Comte (played by the magnificent Lambert Wilson) who is simply too worldly and sophisticated to be taken in by such a lightweight. Actually all the supporting roles are superbly played by a very talented cast (esp. Raphael Personnaz as Duc D’Anjou) and they really outshine the mis-cast Ms Laurent.
Still it is an enjoyable romp, beautifully made as one would expect from the great French Filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier. Definitely worth a view.
P.S. My sympathy with the Prince went beyond his wife’s infedility as I couldn’t get over the fact that although she had a lavish new costume for every single scene, he seemed to live in his one green jacket!
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