Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Affair of the Necklace

(Movie Review)

I had never heard of this movie before I saw it in the video store. It apparently came out a few years ago, but it was one of those movies I missed because I was living out in the Japanese countryside.

I was, however familiar with the historical incident the film is based on, at least in broad terms. And so I had mixed feelings about renting this movie. Since I already knew what the outcome would be, I feared the movie would simply be a slow and boring 2 hours as it retread old ground.  Especially since the last movie I rented about Marie Antoinette I found pretty dull. But, after some debating with myself at the video store, I decided to rent this movie and give it a chance.

To my pleasant surprise, the movie actually turned out to be quite entertaining. And I even learned a lot from it.
“The Affair of the Necklace” is the story of an extremely expensive diamond necklace, that was originally made for Madame du Barry, Louis XV mistress, and Marie Antoinette’s rival at court. By the time the necklace had been completed, Louis XV was dead, and Madame du Barry had been expelled from Versailles. The jewelers were desperate to find another buyer. Marie Antoinette refused, but a gang of swindlers were able to convince the dim-witted Cardinal Rohan that Marie Antoinette secretly wished him to purchase the necklace for her, and to act as a guarantor.
When the affair came to light, an outraged Louis XVI arrested Cardinal Rohan, and put him on trail. The whole affair was yet another blow to the monarchy’s already tattered image.

Although I had been already familiar with the basic outlines of this story, I knew nothing about the gang of swindlers themselves. So I was able to learn a lot about their history and motives. (A little research on wikipedia reveals this movie isn't perfectly historically accurate. I guess here I’ll have to admit my ignorance.
...But really, did you ever know a Hollywood movie that was perfectly historically accurate? I wasn’t really expecting textbook accuracy anyway.)

The acting is pretty good in this movie as well. Christopher Walken does a good job as Count Cagliostro. Adrian Brody is brilliant as Nicholas de Lamotte, the estranged husband of Jeanne, portraying him as the perfect lovable scoundrel.
And what really makes the movie is Jonathan Pryce as Cardinal Rohan. He plays the character with just the right mixture of arrogance and stupidity.

Unfortunately the weak link in the cast is the title role itself: Jeanne du Valois played by Hillary Swank. But the strength of the surrounding cast is more than enough to carry her through.

Link of the Day
Prepare For Global Temperature Rise of 4C, Warns Top Scientist

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