french films > The Princess of Montpensier

The Princess of Montpensier

The Princess of Montpensier

Review score: * * * * *

cast: Mélanie Thierry, Lambert Wilson, Gaspard Ulliel

year: 2010

colour: yes


director: Bertrand Tavernier

runtime: 139

The hyper-versatile Bertrand Tavernier returns to a favourite terrain, the French historical drama, in a superbly mounted 16th-century drama of politics, passion and occasional swordplay, based on a story by Madame de Lafayette. Noblewoman Marie (Mélanie Thierry) loves her swashbuckling cousin Henri de Guise (Gaspard Ulliel) but must yield to her father's political ambitions and marry Philippe de Montpensier (Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet). When war calls him away, her husband leaves her in the benevolent charge of tutor Chabannes (Lambert Wilson, in superb elder-statesman form), a nobleman outlawed after he turns his back on war. But Marie is soon exposed to the sexual and political intrigues of court. Superbly shot by Bruno de Keyzer, this is a richly intelligent drama of public and private life, conscience and desire, with Thierry in a career-making role as a heroine of genuine grandeur. Steeped in French literary and filmic traditions, The Princess of Montpensier is serious and involving classic drama, though it doesn't shun costume-drama pleasures of the sabre-rattling, bodice-ripping tradition. It certainly ranks among Tavernier's finest.


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