Leaud is as much as a symbol as an actor, but it's a testament to his transformation that this dirge doesn't just use him as an avatar of cinema, but for something grander. This is, with little dialogue, one of the most haunting films of 2017, a look at the inevitability of death, the absurdity of history, and the way human civilization—each phase of which looks surreal in retrospect—is helpless in the face of it.
Though I will concede that it does naturally have a few moving parts (in the machinic sense), I am nonetheless compelled to declare that THE DEATH OF LOUIS XIV is probably the greatest one joke movie in the history of cinema.
Compositionally brilliant. It's a sombre affair, sure, but Serra keeps a sense of the sardonic alive (he again narratively deconstructs a mythic/religious figure, but this time it's paired with a literal deconstruction!). The film's last moments make for the most forceful final scene since Scorsese's THE WOLF OF WALL STREET. I'm sold.
It was like being in a live painting for a couple hours, a gorgeous period painting, with perfectly convincing acting and lighting that allowed for the candle-lit period, but sparkled in every frame. It seemed to have the veracity of a well-researched piece that made me think I learned something more than I had before. With a gaze neither cold nor cloying. Splendid.
Still gnawing on this days after the fact. It's death, and homage to one of the greatest actors ever. Not to mention maybe the best costumes for a period piece ever. It's very quiet, save for an orchestral blow-out mid film when Jean-Pierre Léaud just stares at you for minutes, AH! While his physical decline is clear, he's unsurprisingly charming, raw, captivating. May the cinema gods bless him. Masterpiece.
An alternately transfixing and confounding visit to The Sun King's deathbed, Serra's latest is also a decidedly non-majestic but sorta magnificent meditation on death, dignity, celebrity and cinema. I wrote an extended blather about it here: https://bostonhassle.com/the-death-of-louis-xiv-2016-dir-albert-serra/
It's beautiful how this film establishes an atmosphere of truth and how it really seems we are watching a documentary instead of a fiction. Acting - on point. Clothes & wigs - perfection. Serra really showcases an ability to do a lot with so little on screen - light, shadows, long silences, heart. As we watch the death of Louis XIV, we are really watching the perishing of human power facing our biggest fear.