The Princess Of Montpensier (La Princesse De Montpensier)
Bertrand Tavernier romantic thriller a refreshingly modern take on religious fundamentalism and oppression of women
Although it’s set against the backdrop of the 16th-century French wars between Catholics and Protestants, veteran writer/director Bertrand Tavernier’s self-styled ‘romantic thriller’ feels refreshingly modern in its treatment of religious fundamentalism and the oppression of women.
Based on the 1662 novella by Madame de Lafayette, it tells the story of a beautiful young heiress, Marie (Mélanie Thierry), who, despite loving her dashing warrior cousin Guise (Gaspar Ulliel), is forced by her father to submit to marrying the Prince of Montpensier (Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet). Torn between duty and desire, she in turn captivates her gentlemanly tutor Chabannes (Lambert Wilson) and the heir to the throne, the dandyish Duke of Anjou (Raphaël Personnaz.)
Impressively photographed and designed and robustly acted by its ensemble cast, The Princess of Montpensier demonstrates Tavernier’s versatility as a filmmaker. He’s equally adept at choreographing savage battle scenes, directing intimate bedroom encounters and capturing intrigue at the royal court. This is very much a patriarchal world, in which women are treated as commodities to be exchanged and contested by men. Yet if the princess of the title is the film’s heroine, then the humanist Chabannes is its moral compass, who pays a terrible price for renouncing fanaticism.
Selected release from Fri 8 Jul.