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Nyree Dawn Porter
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Fernando Fernán Gómez
"Ridicule" confirms well a thing: Patrice Leconte is one of the most talented French film-makers that French cinema has known. His gift comes from the fact that ke knows how to find original and eye-catching subjects for his movies and he also knows how to make them fascinating (watch "mister Hire" or "the hairdresser's wife" to be aware of it).
Here, he chose to broach a make his movie around a feeling that men always dreaded: ridicule. The action takes place in 1780, in the reign of Louis XVI. A young noble (Charles Berling) intends to get a meeting with the king, in Versailles. Indeed, he'd like him to lend important sums of money so as to drain marshes infected by mosquitos. This action will enable to save hundreds of peasants. But what Berling doesn't know is that he's not the only one who wants to get a meeting with the king. Hundreds of nobles like him feel the same thing. Above all, according to an elderly noble (Jean Rochefort), when you're in the court of a king, you have to avoid the ridicule which consequences can be disastrous. Berling will learn it, will face it and will just avoid it.
You could compare the court of Louis XVI as a jungle where only the strong survive. The strong are those who are quick-witted and skillful-minded. Ridicule invades the weak and leads them to disgrace, even suicide. With this movie, Leconte's aim is at denouncing vanity and hypocrisy of courtiers in the court of the king who take advantage of their privileged situation.
An outstanding and precise film-making, a dazzling performance especially Jean Rochefort and some powerful cues ("now, you mustn't make a single mistake" said Rochefort to Berling when the last one's going to meet the king). Obviously, the movie doesn't lack ironical humor: when the king asks to a courtier: "I hope it's not a pun" and the courtier replies: "no, Sir, it's a play on words". Play on words and pun mean the same thing.
At the end, a brilliant movie rightly awarded in France where it won the Oscar for the Best movie in 1997
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