Bertrand Tavernier's historical drama The Princess of Montpensier is a grand affair. Based on the novella by Madame de Lafayette, the film is set in the sixteenth century in the midst of a bloody war between the Catholics and the Hugenots. The story is rife with senseless battles, swashbuckling duels, scenic castles, galloping horses, and at the heart of the story, a beautiful woman: the Princess Marie de Montpensier (Mélanie Thierry).
Mélanie Thierry is a singular beauty. She has long blond hair, the necessary gorgeous physique, and there is a unique quality to her face, an almost square jawline, eyes set far away from each other, that makes such an impression. With a one hundred and forty minute run time, The Princess of Montpensier
is a commitment, a long film to watch, but it is eminently that much more watchable because of the young actress.
Marie’s arranged marriage to a young and inexperienced Prince (Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet) starts the trouble. Because Marie is in love with the Prince’s cousin, the handsome and untrustworthy Guise (Gaspard Ulliel). When the Prince is sent off to war, he leaves his young wife under the tutelage of his mentor, the melancholy Comte de Chabannes (Lambert Wilson). Unfortunately for all, Chabannes falls for Marie as well. In addition to the Duc d'Anjou (Raphaël Personnaz).
The Princess of Montpensier
is fine entertainment. I was captivated by every costume change and new hair style of the young princess. That said, the well crafted film is also overwrought and a little too long.
Emotions run just as high in the sixteenth century as they do in present times. Our princess is only sixteen. She does not have much in the way of experience. She behaves badly. So much so that I often wanted to shake her, tell her to behave. The men in her life are all carrying sharp swords. Her very head is at stake.
The Princess of Montpensier (2011)
Starring: Mélanie Thierry, Lambert Wilson, Gaspard Ulliel, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet
Directed by: Bertrand Tavernier
Produced by: Éric Heumann
Running Time: 2 hrs. 19 min.
Release Date: April 15th, 2011 (limited)
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Distributors: IFC Films