x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

The Princess of Montpensier

Watch The Princess of Montpensier for the costumes and cinematography, not for the pacing and dialogue.

Melanie Thierry stars as Princess Marie de Montpensier in The Princess of Montpensier.
Melanie Thierry stars as Princess Marie de Montpensier in The Princess of Montpensier.

The Princess of Montpensier
Director: Bertrand Tavernier
Starring: Mélanie Thierry, Lambert Wilson and Gaspard Ulliel
**

Based on a short story anonymously published by Madame de La Fayette in 1662, this costume adventure takes place during wartime in the 1570s. It's advisable to read up on the period or watch the similar La Reine Margot (1994) as Tavernier doesn't provide much in the way of exposition or historical context. The trouble with failing to provide context is that it seems to force the famed French director to work in clichés to relay the story of how the Prince of Montpensier (Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet) is married off to Marie de Mezieres (Thierry), the daughter of a rich noble man as a way of securing the family fortune. Unfortunately, Marie already has her heart set on another man, Henri (Ulliel) the Duke of Guise, with whom she was engaged. As the war rages, Marie is given a tutor (Wilson) who we see at the opening of the film renounce the bloodletting and like all men in the movie he's soon falling for the charms of his student. She has also caught the eye of the king's brother the Duke d'Anjou. It's a convoluted story that never quite takes off, mostly because the pace is too slow and Tavernier is more concerned with costumes and cinematography than he is with pacing and dialogue.

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