Friday, December 30, 2011

The Princess of Montenpsier

I am genetically predisposed to love any movie about royal intrigue. Especially, as in this one, where it also involves forbidden romance, masquerade balls, sworfights, duplicitous family politics and scandals, and, just for kicks, religious wars. It really has it all. And it's set in beautiful, verdant, rural France. And its one of the rare movies that make interesting, purposeful use of color photography, as the yellows, greens, reds, and purples just pop right off the screen.

Lambert Wilson plays a once-ardent religious warrior who has seen too much and decides to lay down his arms and embrace pacifism and a role as advisor in the court of the Prince of Montpensier. He is viewed suspiciously by both sides of war, seen as a traitor by those he leaves behind, and a possible interloper by those he now moves among, but never betraying his core conviction that killing in the name of God is wrong, no matter which side. Between this and his role in Of Gods and Men, he makes the strongest case for real, contemplative faith seen in one cinematic year that I've seen.

                                                     (does this not look like a painting?)
The religious war between French Catholics and Huguenots rages and is filmed intensely, but as with just about every war movie since The Steel Helmet, struggles to balance showing "the absurdity of war" with images of bravura heroism glamorizing it. But the more interesting war rages within the titular princess, trying to fight the urges she has toward her husband's cousin, with his chiseled jaw and flowing locks. She can't help herself, try as she might to stay away from him. That obsessive attraction coupled with an intense desire, and need, to resist is fascinating to watch play out. As Little Richard once sang, "the girl can't help it".

In case you're not up on Little Richard:

No comments: