The Princess of Montpensier
Directed by: Bertrand Tavernier
Written by: Bertrand Tavernier, Jean Cosmos & Francois-Olivier Rousseau (screenplay), Madame de La Fayette (short story)
Starring: Mélanie Thierry, Lambert Wilson, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet and Gaspard Ulliel
In America, it’s hard to write a review of a good foreign movie without feeling obligated to include an excuse for someone to watch it. Many of the different styles in pacing and filming, in addition to the inclination toward moral ambiguity turn off audiences who favor the opposite. The Princess of Montpensier is a lavishly filmed French spectacle chock-full of sex and gruesome violence, but injected with those aforementioned “handicaps.”
Directed and co-written with exceptional talent by Bertrand Tavernier, Princess is a period love triangle set amid the turbulent violence of the Catholic/Protestant wars of the 16th century. It opens with an epic sequence of men on horseback slaughtering men on the ground. This image is indicative of the unfair advantages that infect much of the rest of the story, which finds young Marie (Mélanie Thierry) married off to the wealthy prince of Montpensier (Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet) who is given favor over the man Marie truly loves, her cousin Henri de Guise (Gaspard Ulliel).