A Little Chaos

Paris, 1682: King Louis XIV wants the gardens of Versailles to equal the beauty and grandeur of his 700-room, 2000-window, 1250-fireplace, 67-staircases palace.

0626littlechaos1-master1050In the film, his master gardener Andre feels the task is too immense (and the King’s ambition too grand, too exact) and he hires help to get it all done. His choice for the architect of an elegant outdoor ballroom stuns all the applicants: it’s a woman, not very well known, not a member of court, Sabine.

Now, if you know me at all, you know all you had to say was Versailles. I would probably get all beheady if my hard-earned tax dollars funded the place, but it’s obscenely, richly, decadently wondrous to look at. But here’s the thing: this is a movie that just keeps on giving. If you aren’t immediately convinced by the setting, here are three names to make you fall down in a faint: Kate Winslet, Stanley Tucci, Alan Rickman.

Alan Rickman, who also directs, gets to wear the crown as King Louis. Tucci gets to play a mere 624duke, but poor Winslet is the one wrecking her nails playing in the dirt. Kate Winslet, as you well know, is born to play such a role. She’s a period piece angel, a garden fairy, her creamy skin made for corsets, her wavy hair’s blonde highlights catching the sun’s warm rays, making her glow, making her attract the attention of the handsome and ill-married master gardener (Matthias Schoenaerts).

Sabine’s character is of course fictitious; women would have been allowed to hold “jobs” at that time, even if they were widowed and otherwise poor, as Sabine. But Rickman’s insertion of her into a known piece of history really mixes things up and brings a level of enchantment to the a-little-chaos-film-201-009piece. The gardens are beautiful, but they’re just the setting for a lot of familiar human emotion: love, betrayal, grief, triumph.

A Little Chaos is held up by fabulous performances by a very talented cast. It’s not quite passionate enough as a romance and is completely anachronistic as a historical drama. Nary a poor french peasant is glimpsed. But if you’re willing to let that go, I bet you’re going pulled into this fantasy as I was.

 

 

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10 thoughts on “A Little Chaos

  1. Lloyd Marken

    I really enjoyed this, so much so that I was disappointed to find out Winslet’s character never existed. Interesting to note though that the King and Duke did and the Duke really was a great military commander who loved his wife and was bi if not homosexual. The gardens and estates are gorgeous, I mean look at Louis’s get up in the above photo (gorgeous) so imagine my surprise to find out the whole thing was shot in England and Versailles itself is even more beautiful. I agree the romance doesn’t quite stir and there were some patches a bit dull but there’s so much enjoy. The film really came alive for me when she was in court with the other women and then verbally jousted with the King. That’s my favourite bit, nice review Jay.

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  2. BroadBlogs

    This looks really good. I love Versailles. Love movies that both teach me about history and make places I love come to life. Love these actors too.

    Did you catch the Oscar’s? This writer suggests that our best picture nominees, together, create a picture of our fragmented society

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