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Jennifer Jason Leigh,
Diane of Meridor, aged 23 years, lives a happy country life with her father. For the first time, Diana has her coming out ball, organized by the count of Monsoreau, who, in spite of being much older than her, wants to make her his wife, having a possessive and jealous love for the young woman. The duke of Anjou takes Diana in the ball, and tries to abuse of her exercising his prerogatives of being the brother of the king. Monsoreau will take advantage of this fact in his favor, and kidnaps de lady. He explains her father that Duke of Anjou, a known seducer, has kidnapped her. In order to safe her honor, he offers to marry her. Her father consents to it, with his heart broken by his sorrow. Diana of Meridor is forced to marry the damnable count of Monsoreau. Since then, she will know the Court and will live closely the various plots to betray the king, and discovers all around her the awful taste of deceit, jealousy, betrayal and intrigues of the Court. There is only one man capable of... Written by
The fact that this two-part French miniseries is "liberally inspired" by Alexandre Dumas' novel of the same name, sequel to the more famous "Queen Margot," should be a warning to those who are looking for a faithful adaptation. The writer keeps a number of the characters but changes their personalities immensely (and, consequently, the way that they interact with each other). A few major subplots and characters are removed entirely, and others are drawn from the writer's bland imagination and "La Dame de Monsoreau"'s own sequel, "The Forty-Five Guardsmen."
Diane de Méridor (a terribly miscast Esther Nubiola) goes to a ball hosted by the smitten - or rather, inexplicably obsessed - Comte de Monsoreau, the king's Chief Huntsman (Frédéric van den Driessche, wasting a strong performance). There, she catches the eye of the younger brother of Henri III, the Duc d'Anjou (Frédéric Quiring, also decent), while Monsoreau looks on jealously. The prince's messy-haired, soul-patched crony Comte de Bussy (a fairly dreadful Thomas Jouannet) soon arrives and also shows an interest in the beautiful Diane. Later that night, the besotted Anjou attempts to kidnap her, but Monsoreau flies to her rescue and steals her away to Paris to shield her from the prince. Upon arriving in the city, however, the Chief Huntsman forces her to become the Comtesse de Monsoreau. Meanwhile, Bussy, his hair still carefully disheveled, aligns himself with the king and spies on the Duc d'Anjou, uncovering the prince's plot with Monsoreau and the Guises (mainly Marie de Guise, played by a hammy Anne Caillon) to steal the throne. Naturally, all of the bad guys are double-crossing each other, which complicates their scheme. After another fateful meeting with Diane, Bussy decides to become her protector and rid her of Monsoreau. And thus, Bussy and Diane fall in love whilst attempting to thwart the treacherous designs of the conspirators.
If you're familiar with either the novel or the excellent 1971 miniseries with Nicolas Silberg, Michel Creton, and Karin Petersen, you probably won't think much of this adaptation. But even if you want to judge it on its own merits, you'll have a hard time trying to find just what those are. Van den Driessche and Quiring and a couple of the other secondary actors give solid performances, but the leads aren't likable in the slightest and the viewer will have a hard time caring about their great love, no matter how much the over-the-top music tries desperately to compensate for the actors' lack of chemistry. Jouannet's Bussy is not the noble, powerful, strong, multi-layered Bussy of the novel, but a whiny Huguenot who spends most of his time disrespecting the prince (his supposed friend) and complaining about how his people are persecuted. The dynamic of the relationship between Bussy and Anjou is completely ruined, corrupting the stories and characters that make "La Dame de Monsoreau" one of Dumas' finest works. The changes to Diane's character at first seem predictable and even understandable; they try to transform her from "damsel in distress" into a sassy tomboy. But, like Bussy, she comes off as holier-than-thou, ungrateful, and annoying. The role of the villains is to swan around and have scary conversations with their allies about their transparently evil ambitions. The less said about them, the better.
In short, the writing is sloppy, the scenes choppy, the characters flat and poorly constructed, and the situations contrived. This means that it is not only a badly delivered and stupid adaptation, but one lacking in real entertainment value. The miniseries aims to be a romantic swashbuckler and tale of political intrigue, and it fails miserably on both counts.
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