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Let Joy Reign Supreme (1975)

Que la fête commence... (original title)
France, 1719. Louis 14th died four years ago, Philippe d'Orleans is the regent. He is a liberal and a libertine. His right-hand man, Dubois, an atheistic and cupid priest, as libertine as ... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Le marquis de Pontcallec
Christine Pascal ...
Alfred Adam ...
Le maréchal de Villeroy
Jean-Roger Caussimon ...
Le cardinal
Gérard Desarthe ...
Le duc de Bourbon / Duke of Bourbon
Michel Beaune ...
Le capitaine La Griollais
Monique Chaumette ...
La gouvernante de Pontcallec
François Dyrek ...
Jean-Paul Farré ...
Le père Burdo
La Fillon
Raymond Girard ...
Jacques Hilling ...
L'abbé Gratellard
Bernard La Jarrige ...
Amaury de Lambilly


France, 1719. Louis 14th died four years ago, Philippe d'Orleans is the regent. He is a liberal and a libertine. His right-hand man, Dubois, an atheistic and cupid priest, as libertine as Philippe, tries to take advantage of a little rebellion lead by a Breton squire (Pontallec) and of the famine to become archbishop... Description of the life of the court in this period of transition where the French Revolution smoulders. Written by Yepok

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Drama | History | War






Release Date:

26 March 1975 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Let Joy Reign Supreme  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

Victims of history
1 July 2007 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

Bertrand Tavernier's second film as director, the lavish but almost completely forgotten Que la Fete Commence… aka Let Joy Reign Supreme, is much more unusual than the standard period piece, as you might expect from a film that begins with a priest threatening field mice with excommunication on the cliffs of Breton and constantly manages to marry the absurd with the humane against a vividly realised historical backdrop in a remarkable feat of cinematic juggling.

Set during the controversial regency of the much-despised Philippe d'Orleans, who managed to antagonise both the aristocracy with his plans for land and tax reform and the peasants with his failure to improve their increasingly miserable lot, there's poison in its pen, but there's also real humanity too: Tavernier and co-writer Jean Aurenche are as interested in the people as politics, and most are treated as all too recognisably flawed rather than cartoonish stereotypes. The dialogue is at once witty and revealing, both on a historical and human level, conjuring up a wide-reaching portrait of an almost comically dangerous moment in history that takes in all strata of society but with an understanding of human nature constantly running through it that elevates it beyond the usual costume drama where costume and décor overwhelm everything.

As the enlightened libertine whose attempt to rule a corrupt kingdom is at odds with his debauched nature, Philippe Noiret gives one of his very best performances, avoiding the temptation to slip into ham or caricature in favour of a remarkably controlled and quietly affecting portrait of world-weary wisdom and self-awareness. His grief over the death of his favourite daughter is all too believable, his reaction all-too recognisably human as he buries himself in work because "I still can't feel it, so I'm working while I still can." Even Jean Rochefort's Abbé Dubois, who tries to blow up impoverished Breton noble Jean-Pierre Marielle's farcical plot for independence into a major conspiracy to secure a vacant archbishop's post despite being neither a Catholic nor able to remember how to say Mass, somehow avoids becoming a cartoon, their bitterly comic relationship tinged with real sadness. Like Marielle's doomed revolutionary (a near-master class in comic timing), they are as much victims of history as of their own ambitions.

Filmed with real panache and remarkable assurance (including many early examples of the long tracking shots Tavernier is so fond of), it constantly undercuts the picture-book image of the period. The Court of Versailles is so rat-infested that no-one thinks anything of nobles picking up a dead rodent or of police constables walking around with buckets for aristos to pee in, while the streets are filled with royal press gangs forcing indigents and tramps into marriage before sending them to populate France's colonies in Louisiana and Mississippi that are the backbone of the fragile economy even if most nobles can't tell the difference between America and Africa. Michel Blanc, Christian Clavier, Thierry Lhermitte and Gerard Jugnot turn up in bit parts en route, though intriguingly Michael Powell's scenes hit the cutting room floor.

It's a film with wit and scope and real humanity: if Ridicule is a pleasant light lunch, this is a profoundly delightful full banquet of a movie.

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