MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

By Mike Wilmington

Wilmington on DVDs. Co-Pick of the Week: New. The Princess of Montpensier

The Princess of Montpensier (Four Stars)

France: Bertrand Tavernier, 2010  (MPI Home Video)

The Princess of Montpensier is a splendid French historical drama, a movie in the tradition of  sumptuous, intelligent epic-makers like Jean RenoirLuchino Visconti, or Jean-Paul Rappeneau — and of course, in the best tradition of the filmmaker who made it, the usually good, sometimes magnificent Bertrand Tavernier (Coup de Tourchon, A Sunday in the Country, Life and Nothing But).

Adapted by Tavernier and his writers, Jean Cosmos and Francois-Olivier Rousseau, from a lesser-known novel by the celebrated aristocrat/authoress Madame de La Fayette, this film is a rich, emotional, supremely intelligent work — a passionate romance, a penetrating political critique, ad a rousing adventure story. And though the novel from which it’s based is lesser known that La Fayette’s “The Princess of Cleves” it’s a work of genius all the same, immaculately imagined, seething with passion.

The story is a romance set during the Wars of Religion in 1562, and involving real historical figures — most prominently Marie, the Princess of Montpensier (played by the stunning Melanie Thierry), and the four prominent men, all real historical figures (like Marie) who love and vie for her: her idealistic soldier-husband, The Prince of Montpensier (Gregoire Lefrance- Ringuet); the womanizing seducer whom Marie loves, the Duc de Guise (Gaspard Ulliel), De Guise’s friend and another fatal charmer, the Duc d’Anjou (Raphael Personnaz), and, perhaps the most interesting character in the film, the older pacifist soldier/scholar, the Comte de Chabannes (Lambert Wilson), the shining, trustworthy idealist to whom the Prince entrusts his Princess — but who falls in love with her as well.

Madame de La Fayette, who was somewhat inspired by a different set of events in her own century, knows this milieu, knows these high desparate romantic and political stakes. And so do Tavernier and writer Cosmos, through artistic empathy. All the acting is superb, all the writing admirable, all the visuals rich and beckoning.

French artists, both literary (Stendhal, Flaubert) and cinematic (Carne-Prevert), are adept at anatomizing l’amour, at giving us a almost scientific analysis of the ways of love. Tavernier’s film shows us distinct varieties of passion, from pure to lusty, from analytical to overwhelming. But he also shows us the world of that time, immerses us in its sights and sounds.

And Tavernier gives us the people as well as their history. Francois Truffaut once complained of the pomposities and pretensions of the French “Cinema of Quality.” Young Turk of a critic that he was, he probably exaggerated. Indeed, in later years, Truffaut apologized to many of the cinematic elite, such as Julien Duvivier, whom he had critically bludgeoned in his youth.

He was talking against then, films like The Princess of Montpensier. But surely the quality Tavenrier gets here is nothing to ridicule or assault. Tavernier is an auteur, but he is also a filmmaker of quality, of the first rank, and The Princess of Montpensier is a film no fan of French film, or of art film, or of historical film, or of lusty full-blooded romance and adventure, should miss. Movies were made to give us experiences like this. So was Bertrand Tavernier. (In French, with English subtitles.)

Other Co-Pick of the Week (New):

 The Tree of Life (U.S.: Terrence Malick, 2011) Four Stars (20th Century Fox)

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.


awesome stuff. OK I would like to contribute as well by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some amazing and easy to modify. check it out at All custom premade files, many of them totally free to get. Also, check out Dow on: Wilmington on DVDs: How to Train Your Dragon, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Darjeeling Limited, The Films of Nikita Mikhalkov, The Hangover, The Human Centipede and more ...

cool post. OK I would like to contribute too by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some amazing and easy to customize. check it out at All custom templates, many of them dirt cheap or free to get. Also, check out Downlo on: Wilmington on Movies: I'm Still Here, Soul Kitchen and Bran Nue Dae

awesome post. Now I would like to contribute too by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some beautiful and easy to modify. take a look at All custom premade files, many of them free to get. Also, check out DownloadSoho.c on: MW on Movies: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Paranormal Activity 2, and CIFF Wrap-Up

Carrie Mulligan on: Wilmington on DVDs: The Great Gatsby

isa50 on: Wilmington on DVDs: Gladiator; Hell's Half Acre; The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Rory on: Wilmington on Movies: Snow White and the Huntsman

Andrew Coyle on: Wilmington On Movies: Paterson

tamzap on: Wilmington on DVDs: The Magnificent Seven, Date Night, Little Women, Chicago and more …

rdecker5 on: Wilmington on DVDs: Ivan's Childhood

Ray Pride on: Wilmington on Movies: The Purge: Election Year

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon