Versailles in July 1789. There’s growing disquiet at the court of King Louis XVI: the people are defiant and the country is on the brink of revolution. Behind the scenes at the royal palaces emergency plans are being made. Although nobody believes that this spells the end of the established order everyone is talking of escape, including Queen Marie Antoinette and her entourage. One of Marie Antoinette’s ladies-in-waiting is Sidonie Laborde who, as the Queen’s reader, is a member of the monarch’s inner circle. Concerned that her escape might fail, the queen gives instructions for the girl to step into her carriage dressed in the queen’s clothes while the queen herself is to escape from the palace unseen at night. At first Sidonie is proud to have such an honour bestowed upon her – but she soon realises that her mistress’ request has nothing to do with her affection for her.
Based on Chantal Thomas’ award-winning novel of the same name, Benoît Jacquot’s film portrays the early days of the French Revolution as seen through the eyes of the servants at Versailles. An historical drama with ironic overtones that also draws parallels to the present. –Berlinale
Benoît Jacquot was born in Paris in 1947. He was the assistant to various directors before making his first film, L’Assassin Musicien in 1975. Fifteen films followed, such as Les enfants du placard, Les ailes de la colombe, La Ddsenchantée, La fille seule_, Le septième ciel, Pas de scandale, Sade, Tosca and Adolphe. He has worked with, among others, actors like Isabelle Huppert, Isabelle Adjani, Virginie Ledoyen, Fabrice Luchini and Daniel Auteuil. L’école de la chair was selected in Competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 1998 and A tout de suite in the Un Certain Regard section in 2004. He has also directed numerous documentaries and features for television, such as Princesse Marie in 2003 with Catherine Deneuve. In the fall of 2004 he directed Werther by Massenet at the Royal Opera in London"s Covent Garden. He is finishing a screenplay based on a novel by Moravia and is preparing… read more
Quite an interesting look at beauty, loyalty and seduction at the beginning of the French revolution. Léa Seydoux, consistently good, puts in another solid performance as Marie Antoinette's reader in this well plotted and subtle period piece that relies more on the relationships than it does on setting to reveal it's story. 3.5 stars
This year’s edition includes Rendez-Vous +, “a potpourri of recent French documentaries and rarely screened classics.”
Notes, followed by a roundup, on the festival’s Opening Night film.
Also: Even as the 2011 lists keep coming, we’ve begun to look ahead to 2012.