movie film review | chris tookey

La Reine Margot / Queen Margot

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  La Reine Margot / Queen Margot Review
Tookey's Rating
6 /10
Average Rating
6.50 /10
Isabelle Adjani, Vincent Perez, Daniel Auteuil
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Directed by: Patrice Chereau
Written by: Daniele Thompson, Patrice Chereau from the novel by Alexandre Dumas

Released: 1994
Origin: France/ Germany/ Italy
Colour: C
Length: 162


Love story set against political upheavals in 16th century France.

Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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This splendidly mounted, extremely bloody costume drama took the French box office by storm. It even won comparisons with the Gerard Depardieu blockbuster, Cyrano de Bergerac. It is, at its best, a mafia movie in 16th century costume. Virna Lisi plays the Godmother, Catherine de Medici, with poisonous malice, and more than a hint of incestuous passion for her second son, Anjou (Pascal Greggory).
The most memorable sequences show Catherine's determination to bump off anyone who gets in the way of her beloved sons, and the in-fighting and betrayals which result. Before the first hour is out, the streets of Paris are strewn with bodies from the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre; and Catherine's new son-in-law, Henri of Navarre (Daniel Auteuil), is hastily recanting his protestantism to save his life.
All this is depicted by director Patrice Chereau with a Tarantino-like enthusiasm for carnage, and a painterly eye (several shots throughout the film are based on Old Masters of the period).
It could all have been sensationalist, save for some outstanding performances. Strictly speaking, Daniel Auteuil was 20 years too old for his part, but he expertly evokes the insecurity of a man who thought he was in the 16th Century equivalent of The Sleeping Beauty, but suddenly finds himself in the midst of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
And Jean-Hugues Anglade gives a tour de force as the feeble, mother-dominated Charles IX, literally sweating blood as he dies, accidentally poisoned by mama, and still trying to work out who his friends are.
Unfortunately, as the name of the movie implies, the Dumas novel on which it is based is centred elsewhere - on the romance between Margot (Isabelle Adjani), Henri of Navarre's nymphomaniac wife, and her Protestant lover La Mole (Vincent Perez). Although Adjani and Perez are photogenic, their roles are grievously underwritten and insufficiently sympathetic. They seem to have wandered in from the superficial swashbuckler in the next-door studio, Never Say Navarre Again.
As a result, the focus of the film is irredeemably split; and the question of how Henri is to survive - which should rightly be the sub-plot - becomes a good deal more interesting than the central romance: a pity, in a film which contains so much to admire.

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