Saturday, September 22, 2012

THE PRINCESS OF MONTPENSIER (2010, Bertrand Tavernier, A+)

THE PRINCESS OF MONTPENSIER (2010, Bertrand Tavernier, A+)


Things I like very much in this film include:

1.It satisfies the pessimistic side of me, but not the romantic side of me. I mean I may have given this film A+30 if the film had a happy ending. Who knows? Anyway, though the film doesn't have a happy ending, I still like it very much, because I like its pessimism.

I think the film is pessimistic because the two main characters in this film--The Princess of Montpensier (Mélanie Thierry) and Count de Chabannes (Lambert Wilson)--decide to do the right thing at the end of the film, and are punished severely because they decide to do the right thing. Count de Chabannes can't stand watching innocent people being killed or innocent women being raped, so he decides to help, and is killed. If he decided to let those religious people kill innocent people, he would have survived. He is killed because he still has some humanity inside.

The Princess of Montpensier decides to do what I would also do in her place. I don't know if other people will see this as the right thing to do or not, but if I were the Princess of Montpensier, I would also fight to stay with my lover. I think the Princess does the right thing at the end. She decides to leave her comfortable life and follows her heart. Her love is real, though her lover is not, unfortunately.

It is arguable about the attitude of the film. Does the film approve of the fate of the Princess or enjoy punishing the Princess? I think not. The Princess is punished by her fate. She is punished because she dares to follow her heart. But I think the film doesn't take side. The film doesn't say that the Princess deserves this kind of fate. The film doesn't say that the Count of Chabannes should be killed because he can't stand the massacre. The film just shows us the tragedy of this shitty world. Contrary to many films or even many tragedies, the main characters in this film do the good thing or the right thing, and are punished severely because of the goodness or the humanity inside of them at the end.

2.Another thing I like in this film is the fact that I feel I can understand the motivations of many characters in this film. I think this film really makes their characters come alive. All the main characters in this film have their own desires and their own reasons to do or not to do anything, and I think the film presents the reasons, the motivations, or the thinking of the characters quite clearly.

I don't know how to describe this exactly. But I mean if the film was directed by a lesser director, the characters in this film might have looked more like "fictional characters", instead of looking like human beings with their own desires and reasons like this.

Though I don't approve of what Prince of Montpensier (Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet) does in this film, the film still makes me "understand" this character and his reasons, and can't quite call him "a villain". If there is a villain in this film, I think it is the Duc of Montpensier (Michel Vuillermoz), because I oppose a forced marriage like this. Yet, though I can call the Duc of Montpensier a villain, I still like it very much that the film doesn't try to make him look too evil. The film just presents us his bad activities, but doesn't try to force us to hate him by other means.

What Henri de Guise (Gaspard Ulliel) does at the end of the film surprises me a bit. Does the film twist this character too much and make him look too "fictional" at the end? I think not. I think a guy like this exists. What this character does at the end may not correspond with what he has been doing before that, but it may be because we have looked at him from the Princess' viewpoint. The Princess is surprised like me to find out how much he has changed at the end. But maybe some human beings are really like this. Some guys desire a woman/a thing very much and seem to be ready to die for her/it, but after he has it in his possession, or after time passes, the desire dies, unfortunately, or sometimes unexplainably.

3.I like it very much that the film doesn't try to force us or guide us too much to love or hate any characters. I love some characters and hate some characters in this film, but this fondness and hatred comes from watching the activities of the characters, not from being aroused too much by the techniques of the film. The film doesn't try to make its characters look too "heroic" or too "villainous".

4.I like it very much that this romantic story happens during the time of a civil war or something like that, and the civil war in this film still resembles things happening nowadays, including in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Rwanda, and Thailand.

5.Count de Chabannes is really an interesting character. He chooses side, kills innocent people, repents, tries to remain neutral, has a forbidden love, tries to help the woman he loves and her lover, is punished because of that, tries to help innocent people during the massacre, is killed. I think this character is full of conflicts, both inside and outside of himself.

6.I like the costume of the Princess of Montpensier very much.

APPENDIX: The films of Bertrand Tavernier in my preferential order:

2.A WEEK'S VACATION (1980, A+30)
4.FRESH BAIT (1995, A+30)
9.CLEAN SLATE (1981)
10.HOLY LOLA (2004, A)
11.DEATH WATCH (1980, A-)

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