Ridicule - DVD review (4 stars)


(15) 98min (Second Sight Films DVD retail)


Wit is indeed the ultimate weapon and there was no place more dangerous than the doomed opulent court of Louis XVI in 18th century Versailles. Into this world comes an impoverished French nobleman Grégoire Ponceludon de Malavoy (Charles Berling), whose aim is to raise funds and royal backing for a drainage project in his area of rural France. He soon realises that he will achieve nothing if he does not quickly learn the periwigged games of wit and badinage of the court.

Patrice Leconte’s (Monsieur Hire, The Hairdresser’s Husband) 1996 historical romp is arguably his most seamless and successful film to date. Emboldened by comparisons to the then burgeoning obsession with celebrity in the European press (Princess Diana died in the streets of Paris a year after this film was released and shifted the focus of the French press almost irreversibly), Ridicule is a hilarious and raucous satire. It’s also chock full of fantastic performances (look out for the wonderful Fanny Ardant as the buxom and wise Madam de Blayac and Urbain Cancelier as the mildly retarded king). If you missed this scintillating essay on moral decay the first time around you are in for a treat. Minimal extras.

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