The King Is Dancing

In "The King Is Dancing" (Le Roi Danse), Belgian filmmaker Gerard Corbiau, who made a splash stateside with his Oscar-nominated "Farinelli", has made his third film of four to revolve around music. This time we find ourselves in the court of Louis XIV in the days before he became the Sun King. In this fascinating glimpse into how such a man propels himself to power, the film shows Louis creating an image from music and dance, relying specifically on two geniuses: the ballet composer Lully and the poet and playwright Moliere.

The film is steeped in French political and cultural history, which probably places it beyond the interest of most American moviegoers, but it should play well at festivals and European art houses. And with "Farinelli" as a calling card, the film could be a candidate for limited U.S. release and cable TV sale.

This is a magnificent production with regal interiors, sumptuous costumes, a fluid camera befitting the baroque period and, of course, a soundtrack that reflects a movie devoted to not only the invention of the king's ballet but also to opera itself. Astonishingly, the production was shot not in France, but in an abandoned airport near Cologne, Germany, that has been turned into a studio.

The screenplay -- worked on by Corbiau and his wife, Andree, novelist Eve de Castro and Didier Decoin -- develops the notion that Louis XIV (Benoit Magimel) had to invent himself before consolidating power. Made king at age 14, his country is nevertheless ruled by his mother (Colette Emmanuelle). Shy and overwhelmed by the responsibilities that will one day be thrust upon him, the young dauphin throws himself into music and dance, at which he excels.

His companions in these pursuits are Lully (Boris Terral), a Frenchified Italian composer of ballet, and Moliere (Tcheky Karyo), with whom Louis pairs Lully to create theatrical works. But the Old Guard, which considers these works blasphemous, opposes them at every juncture.

A splendid dancer, Louis is determined that French dance and music dominate Europe. In this way, he will create an image of himself at the forefront of all that is good and noble and absorb the state into his persona as a great dancer so that the body of the king is identified with his kingdom.

But as years go by, the king can no longer dance, so he compels Lully and Moliere to collaborate on comedy ballets. Eventually, Moliere dies, and Louis no longer attends Lully's concerts. All of this Lully recalls from his deathbed, where he thinks back on the dancing king and the thrilling adventures they shared.

These are all difficult and complicated characters. The two geniuses are easily tempted by debauchery and confounded by a "friendship" with a king, a man who shrewdly declares that he has no friends. One observes such people with interest, but their manners and methods are often alienating.

Despite marriage and children, Lully is homosexual, and his enemies use this against him until even Louis must insist that he lead a more conservative life. Terral, as Lully, with Long Dark hair and intense features, is always in motion, as if his entire life were a piece of choreography. Louis is the love of Lully's life, in the platonic sense, and he means for his genius to reflect the king's glory.

Magimel, who reminds one of a blond Sean Penn, slowly acquires the hauteur and stature of the Sun King as the movie progresses. But one sees his sagacity even when Louis is an immature young man.

Karyo's Moliere is a gentle soul despite a rapier wit and love of satirizing piety and hypocrisy. His anger gets subsumed in his humanity and a love for creating art.

Corbiau does an outstanding job of evoking the atmosphere of the 17th century court intrigue and treachery in which the young king grows up. And the music and dance are beautifully filtered through this world of backstabbing courtiers.

But the film is ultimately more cerebral than emotional. It's history without any tragedy; instead, one merely gets the bitter disappointment of artists passed over by their royal fan. And a king who creates a "media image" for himself. In this respect, it's a very modern film.


K-Star, France 2 Cinema, MMCI,

K-Dance, K2 and RTL TVI

with participation of Canal Plus

Producer: Dominique Janne

Director: Gerard Corbiau

Screenwriters: Eve de Castro, Andree Corbiau, Gerard Corbiau, Didier Decoin

Inspired by the book by: Philippe Beaussant

Director of photography: Gerard Simon

Art director: Huberg Pouille

Music: Jean-Baptiste Lully

Costume designer: Olivier Beroit

Editors: Ludo Troch, Philippe Ravoet



Louis XIV: Benoit Magimel

Lully: Boris Terral

Moliere: Tcheky Karyo

Anne d'Autriche: Colette Emmanuelle

Madeleine: Cecile Bois

Julie: Claire Keim

Running time -- 115 minutes

No MPAA rating

Film review: 'Post Coitum '

Few films have depicted sexual obsession with the degree of vividness and humor that "Post Coitum, Animal Triste" demonstrates. The tale of a 40-year-old woman and her affair with a younger man, Brigitte Rouan's feature is a perfect example of the French cinema's dominance when it comes to exploring affairs of the heart.

Previously showcased at Cannes, it screened as part of the New York Film Festival.

Director Rouan also plays the central role of Diane, a happily married woman with a loving husband, two children and a fulfilling job at a publishing house. Her life is turned upside down when she begins an affair with a young, handsome and virile engineer named Emilio (Boris Terral). Throwing caution to the wind, she becomes utterly obsessed, rejoicing in a newfound sexuality that brings her to heights of ecstasy. At one point in this sometimes fanciful film, she is depicted as literally walking on air.

Meanwhile, her husband, Philippe (Patrick Chesnais), begins to realize what's going on; in a subplot that wittily comments on the main action of the film, he's serving as the lawyer for a woman who stabbed her husband to death with a fork because he was cheating on her.

When Emilio abruptly ends the affair, the story takes a different turn, as Diane lengthily and dramatically unravels. The lighthearted film then takes on the dimensions of Greek tragedy.

Rouan is more successful when she is delineating her character's sexual blossoming than her dramatic disintegration, but the first half of the film provides such giddy highs that one is willing to overlook its more routine resolution.

The film is in equal measures witty, touching and funny, and as an actress, Rouan demonstrates an emotional and physical daring that is highly impressive. The supporting characters are equally well-limned; Emilio and Philippe, excellently played by Terral and Chesnais, respectively, are fully drawn, complex characters rather than the stereotypes that a lesser film would have presented.


Ognon Pictures, Pinou Film

in association with Canal Plus

Director:Brigitte Rouan

Screenplay:Brigitte Rouan, Santiago Amigorena, Jean-Louis Richard, Guy Zilberstein, Philippe Le Guay

Producer:Humbert Balsan

Photography:Pierre Dupoey, Arnaud Leguy, Bruno Mistretta

Editor:Laurent Rouan



Diane Clovier:Brigitte Rouan

Philippe Clovier:Patrick Chesnais

Emilio:Boris Terral

Francoise Narou:Nils Tavernier

Weyoman-Lebeau:Jean-Louis Richard

Madame Lepluche:Francoise Arnoul

Running time -- 97 minutes

No MPAA rating

Film review: 'Post-Coitum'

Dominated by co-writer and director Brigitte Rouan's courageous lead performance as a 40-year-old married woman embarking on a wildly liberating but dangerous affair with a man half her age, "Post-Coitum, Animal Triste" is a compelling, expertly fleshed-out drama.

The first of three new French films in the "Cannes 50" celebration of the world's most famous film festival, "Post-Coitum" screens tonight at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. The unwieldy but appropriate title aside, Rouan's fine subtitled feature should spruce up many a festival lineup. Alas, its chances of regular domestic distribution are iffy at best.

We're introduced in the first scene to Diane (Rouan), a publisher's editor writhing in emotional and physical agony over a scuttled relationship. Although the film ultimately takes us through the stormy waters of Diane's post-affair journey into near catastrophe, Rouan backtracks to revel in the raw passions and naughty behavior that sweep up the wife and mother when she surrenders to the advances of gorgeous, attentive Emilio (Boris Terral).

A hydraulic engineer who works primarily in the Third World, Emilio is the roommate of Diane's most promising author, Francois (Nils Tavernier). Stymied by writer's block, Francois relies on Diane for professional help, and it's through him that she first encounters Emilio. In a jarring disruption to the lightly comic first act, an older woman (Francoise Arnoul) murders her aging husband by stabbing him in the neck with a fork.

The lawyer defending Arnoul's character is Diane's husband Philippe (Patrick Chesnais), who soon suspects his wife of having an affair but does not directly confront her. Quiet and decent, he connects on a personal level with his client and comes to understand her motives for ending 40 years of marriage with violence.

With a sly approach, Rouan and her co-writers eventually create a satisfying cinematic tragicomedy devoted to the sadness of those experiencing loss of love. It's an occasionally rough viewing experience and also quite sexy but nothing less than truthful and timelessly relevant.

The film is a showcase for Rouan's prodigious thespian talents as she moves from girlish abandon to anger to self-destruction. In scene after scene, she captures the extreme exaltation and naked misery of a modern woman who falls in love only "once every 15 years."


An Ognon Pictures-Pinou Film co-production

A film by Brigitte Rouan

Director Brigitte Rouan

Writers Brigitte Rouan, Santiago Amigorena,

Jean-Louis Richard, Guy Zilberstein,

Philippe Le Guay

Producer Humbert Balsan

Cinematographers Pierre Dupouey,

Arnaud Leguy, Bruno Mistretta

Editor Laurent Rouan

Art director Roland Deville

Costumes Florence Emir, Marika Ingrato



Diane Clovier Brigitte Rouan

Philippe Clovier Patrick Chesnais

Emilio Boris Terral

Francois Nils Tavernier

Mme. Lepluche Francoise Arnoul

Running time -- 97 minutes

No MPAA rating

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