Legendary director Bertrand Tavernier brings us The Princess of Montpensier, a French epic that starkly contrasts the gallantry of the French court with the gritty brutality of war torn 16th century France. Lambert Wilson (Who we last saw as Christian in Xavier Beauvois’ spectacular Of Gods and Men) leads the cast as Count Chabannes, an aging nobleman. He has pledged to fight for the reform, but after a brutal incident where a pregnant woman and child die, he deserts and is declared a traitor by the Huguenot cause. He seeks clemency with his old friend and student the Prince of Montpensier (Gregoire Leprince-Ringet) whom is about to enter a marriage of convenience with Marie Mezieres (Melanie Thierry), the daughter of a wealthy landowner. The relationship between the two is tenuous to say the least, not least due to Marie’s reluctance to enter into the arrangement.
Tensions grow when the Prince is called away to war under the command of the Duke of Anjou and Chabannes is charged with Marie’s safety and education. Marie’s childhood sweetheart, Henri played by Gaspard Ulliel (Hannibal Rising) also enters the fray. Inevitably, each of the male characters are determined to vie for the princess’ affections by this point. The plot revolves around Chabannes and Marie’s struggle between love and duty as they begin to develop feelings for each other. Marie attempts to reconcile this with the affection she holds for her first love and her obligation towards her husband.
Strong performances come from Wilson, who plays the part of the insightful scholar who fails to hide his underlying passion for Marie. Leprince-Ringet also impresses, starting the film as the solid, dependable prince who gradually descends into suspicion and jealously.
Sean Carroll is a Technician, Projectionist and Screen Lounge operative at Phoenix square. His interests, when not watching films include and are almost exclusively limited to the realms of improvisational music composition, software design and loud noises.