From IMDB: “Two talented landscape artists become romantically entangled while building a garden in King Louis XIV’s palace at Versailles.”
This film was directed by Alan Rickman, in which he stars as King Louis XIV, co-stars include Kate Winslet (Sabine De Barra), Matthew Schoenaerts (André Le Norte), and Stanley Tucci as Philippe, Duc d’Orleans.
Stanley Tucci steals the show in every scene that he’s in. I love him as an actor.
The film is upfront that the only thing that is known is that there was an outdoor ballroom at the palace at Versailles, and everything else is a dream of what might have been. And the gardens are breathtaking. This is a gorgeous film to watch from the costumes and locations and the way people talk (thoroughly British, not French at all).
In typical Hollywood morality, André Le Norte is married but a romantic affair (even an emotional affair) is acceptable because his wife is emotionally abusive and physically cheating on him. Sabine De Barra has a unique perspective on gardening, that “a little chaos” should be introduced to an orderly garden, a reflection that may be based on her troubled past.
One of the most poignant moments for me, in which Alan Rickman really shows his acting chops, is a garden scene in which King Louis XIV and Sabine meet. Alan Rickman was born for this role as the confident, regal King Louis XIV and yet, the screenwriters round his character by adding the garden scene in which he displays a desire for empathy and companionship that is just charming, and heartwarming and tender.
There are also some marvelous, noteworthy cameos throughout the film that Jane Austen fans will adore: Rupert Penry-Jones (2007 Persuasion) appearing as Antoine Lauzun, and the lovely Jennifer Ehle (1995 Pride and Prejudice) as Madame De Montespan, the King’s mistress.
Despite the manufactured plot devices to give the simple story a bit more structure, I think the redeeming moments found in Sabine’s relationship with King Louis XIV, the raw (and tragic) interactions between Sabine and Madame De Montespan, the exquisite costumes and scenery, and the exploration of Sabine’s unhappy past, all add up to a film I really enjoyed and am looking forward to seeing again.
What are your thoughts? Please share below!
This drama/romance has a running time of 1 hr, 57 minutes, and is rated R.