6.1/10
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The Affair of the Necklace (2001)

In pre-Revolutionary France, a young aristocratic woman left penniless by the political unrest in the country, must avenge her family's fall from grace by scheming to steal a priceless necklace.

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Monsieur Bohmer
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Monsieur Bassenge
Frank McCusker ...
Abel Duphot
Simon Shackleton ...
Louis XVI
Hermione Gulliford ...
Nicole Leguay d'Oliva
Geoffrey Hutchings ...
President D'Aligre
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Storyline

Paris, 1786: a woman in court. The Crown murdered her father for his views about the poor, now Jeanne wants her home and good name back. She believes all can be set right if she can talk to the Queen, whose House Minister rebuffs her. With the help of a courtside gigolo, she learns to use what others desire to get what she wants. She needs a patron: with forged letters, she convinces Cardinal de Rohan she is the Queen's confidante and can help him regain royal favor. Jeanne conspires to have the Cardinal purchase a fabulous diamond necklace for the Queen. He delivers it to Jeanne for Marie Antoinette. If the scheme breaks down, what then? Might this affair spark revolution? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

queen | woman | necklace | france | desire | See All (160) »

Taglines:

This summer, one woman wins..... See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

7 December 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Farlig intrig  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$125,523, 2 December 2001, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$430,313, 13 January 2002
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

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Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film cast includes three Oscar winners: Hilary Swank, Christopher Walken, and Adrien Brody. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Narrator: Napoleon wrote that military blunders and domestic catastrophes fanned the flames of the French Revolution. But the cu-de-gras was a curious palace scandal involving woman of nobility denied, a member of the royal family, and the most magnificent string of jewels in all of Europe. This notorious intrigue came to be known as, L'affaire du Collier.
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Soundtracks

Exsultate, Jubilate
Written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Courtesy of FirstCom Music, Inc.
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User Reviews

 
A Good Movie That Could Have Been Great
26 November 2006 | by See all my reviews

The costumes are lavish, the sets lush and resplendent. The story is compelling: how a strange affair of court intrigue becomes part of a larger mosaic of incidences that will eventually bring down the French monarchy. As a backdrop to the main events of the film is the rising unrest of the French citizenry who are becoming more and more disillusioned with their monarchy. A couple of great actors, most notably Jonathan Pryce as Cardinal Rohan, stand out. And yet, although much of the film is there, it is not quite all there. Unfortunately for all its splendor, the final piece needed to make the movie a triumph is lacking: a leading lady right for the part. And maybe some adjustments in the music department.

First the positives: Despite a number of misgivings, this film still has the one element I always look for in any film: is the story compelling enough that, at any given moment, I care about what will happen next and it is not obvious what will happen next? And this movie definitely possesses the required attribute. Few movies have this rather simple facet, and yet, for me, it is often what will make or break a film regardless of the genre. Films as diverse as Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Amadeus, and The Sting have the notable quality of being unpredictable until the very end. These last examples are of course masterpieces of film-making where Necklace is not. It's a good film with a good story but not one that will make any critics' lists.

The story of The Affair of the Necklace is extremely complex involving a countess, the Cardinal of France, the Queen of France, a gigolo, a sorcerer/psychic, a couple of jewelers, a peasant actress, forged letters, and a necklace of tremendous value and prestige. From the start, we know who did it, and the story back-tracks to tell us how and why the intrigue was perpetrated.

Now the not-so-good news: Hillary Swank, a 2-time academy-award-winning actress, is miscast for the part. The rest of the cast acclimates relatively well to late 18th-century France except for her. At times she seems to be playing a character more akin to an early 20th-century debutante than an 18th-century former member of the aristocracy. At times, some of her scenes appear contrived to provoke pity. The character is portrayed on the more innocent and vulnerable side of the female-character spectrum. This seems a bit hard to swallow as this woman is also a mastermind behind an intrigue that may have contributed to the downfall of the aristocracy. Maybe someone like Helena Bonham-Carter would have been a better choice...

The music is also inconsistent. For the majority of the movie, 18th-century and even 17th-century music is heard which seems appropriate as this is a period picture. I noticed a brief excerpt from the Monteverdi Vespers of 1610 in one of the church scenes. At other times, "original" music sounding a lot like Enya is played which always ruins my "disbelief". It reminds me we are in a movie made a couple of centuries after the events that are taking place. The filmmakers would have probably saved a lot of time and money by sticking to period music and not hiring a composer who writes new age music.

That said, this is still a good film when good films are uncommon. Perfect, not by a long shot. The script? Inconsistent but has its moments. Absorbing? Definitely. If you like period pictures, particularly those portraying pre-1800 Europe, you will still get a lot out of The Affair of the Necklace.


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