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"The Borgias" The French King (2011)

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4 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

One diamond and a few bittersweet gems fissured by too many imperfections

Author: igoatabase from France
3 May 2011

Mind game : The following review contains some humongous mistake. Spot it and win… nothing !

I highly anticipated this 6th installment because I thought the King of France could only be an interesting character. Otherwise the more I scratch the show surface the more it reveals its weaknesses. That's why I worried that Neil Jordan and his gang wouldn't be able to deliver an episode in the same vein as the first two or Lucrezia's Wedding. Now that I have seen it my opinion is definitely mixed and I worry about the quality of the upcoming ones. First Lucrezia and her servant bored me to death. Their story has already been pictured on TV a thousand times and this version didn't bring anything new or refreshing to the edifice. Cesare and his mistress arc was similar. The actress performance was exaggerated and their scenes looked like forced drama.

An other element that displeased me was the running gag comeback. A painting, again ? This time it featured a beautiful woman who just happened to have her eyes slightly unaligned. What's wrong with that ? Strabism is charming to some men after all so I didn't get the joke. The first time Jordan ran it in The Moor I laughed but now I only see Juan Borgia, the son to marry, as a taller version of Shrek's Lord Farquaad. It leads us to Charles VIII disastrous portrayal by Michel Muller, a French humorist and actor who is definitely not known for his physical beauty. Little, hunchbacked, bad-mannered and foolish he looked nothing like a King of France ! Moreover it seems only the Borgias and a few exceptions are educated on the show, making the Pope and his family manipulation less impressive. I'm also convinced that Muller's performance would have been more authentic if they had let him speak in French. A pretty interpreter at his side and subtitles would have done the job nicely, like in Game of Thrones to help us understand the Dothraki language for instance.

Beside these few bitter ingredients there were some that tasted better. First Emmanuelle Chriqui's role was surprising compared to Entourage's one for example, where she acted as the perfect girlfriend as far as I remember it. However the few scenes she was featured in and that were supposed to shock us only made me laugh, specially the last one with the pages. One of them could have been disturbing but it was trapped between the others so it ruined its first intention. Still Chriqui as Sancia has potential and at least she was entertaining. Last but not least in that jungle of despair there was one element that should really dazzle your senses. The sequence with the Pope and his mistress, Giula Farnese, was exquisite. Using her beauty and specially her leg as a metaphora for politics was brilliant and definitely what I expected from the show in the first place. Jeremy Irons and Lotte Verbeek both gave a charming performance and their chemistry was excellent. If only the rest of the episode had been blessed with so much majesty !

Solution : Don't tell me you have given up ! In fact it's not that simple because Charles VIII is not that famous. Indeed his profile was quite accurate because he was also known as the Affable and a poor health made him unapt to rule wisely. An easy piece to move for the Borgias ! So from now on let's believe Jordan and his team have paid attention to these tiny details so many viewers are fond of when it comes to historical fiction.

Note : We're desperately seeking a spon$or for our next game, or not.

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