The Princess of Montpensier (2010) ** February 2, 2012Posted by ghostof82 in : Film General , trackback
“A sweeping and romantic historical epic”… hmm, can’t say I agree with any of that. Sadly, for all the fine pedigree of (most of) its cast and crew, the whole thing comes across as a fairly turgid potboiler in lavish costume. Set in the high courts of 16th Century France, during religious wars between Catholics and Protestants, it’s less the epic and more the romantic drama, but it’s not particularly romantic at that, as the main roles are taken by actors with little personality or charisma, severely undermining the film.
Melanie Thierry is woefully miscast (or, to be fair to her, badly directed) as the beautiful Marie de Mézières, the Princess of the title. A young aristocrat in love with her self-centered handsome cousin, Henri de Guise (Gaspard Ulliel), unfortunately for the two lovers Marie’s father arranges her marriage to the Prince of Montpensier (Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet) to engineer the family’s political and financial gain. Marie reluctantly consents to marry the prince but as the story progresses repeatedly crosses paths with Henri, and tempted by old passions to betray her prince.
Unfortunately there is something wrong here- the passion is utterly missing, in spite of the lingering glances and panting. Melanie Thierry is, yes, beautiful, but there is a little warmth to her, no passion or personality. Indeed, she simply seems incredibly irritating, fairly charmless as men puzzlingly throw themselves at her- why? Because she looks pretty? She has no personality, no soul- I just couldn’t see the fascination, particularly when her tutor, the Count de Chabannes (Lambert Wilson, the highlight of the film) bizarrely also falls in love with her. What the hell do all these men see in her? Crippled by her lack of charisma, the film flounders. The men themselves -chiefly the Prince and Henri, but also their royal cousin- are all three pretty wooden, given little to do but ride into battle and when back in court stare at the object of their unlikely passions.
The film certainly looks the part, particularly on the blu-ray rental I saw. The costumes and the decor are sumptuous and the sets and locations certainly look authentic, but all that attention is sadly wasted on an undeserving film. It looks very pretty but there’s nothing to it, there is no fire here, no passion, little drama at all. And for a “sweeping and romantic historical epic”, well, thats pretty terminal.