Friday, August 17, 2012

The Princess of Montpensier

In 1562, at the onset of the Huguenot War, a young noble woman is in love with a dashing soldier but is betrothed to his temperamental friend, the Prince of Montpensier. Retreating together to his forested estate and called once again into battle, the prince leaves his new wife in the charge of his elder, battle weary right hand man to educate and train her as a lady for the court of Catherine de Medici. "The Princess of Montpensier" is a sumptuous and passionate film from French director Bertrand Tavernier, and one of the most visually potent works from recent years. Adapting the 1622 novel by Madame de Lafayette, Tavernier and his co-screenwriters Jean Cosmos and Francois-Olivier Rousseau open up the material and make it relevant and completely engaging. The actiors are wonderful here. I really enjoyed Melanie Theirry as the titular character and especially Lambert Wilson, as the tutor who gradually develops feelings for her. I think some people will hear the title of this film or read its plot description and immediately be turned off to it. "The Princess of Montpensier" is superior historical entertainment and a splendid feast for the eye that defies all preconceptions one may have before seeing it.