7.5/10
6,494
49 user 32 critic

Ridicule (1996)

Trailer
1:17 | Trailer

On Disc

at Amazon

To get royal backing on a needed drainage project, a poor French lord must learn to play the delicate games of wit at court at Versailles.

Director:

Writers:

(scenario), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 21 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Tandem (1987)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Michel Mortez is going to and fro France to compere a radio game he created 25 years ago. He is famous among the average Frenchmen. But he is also a poker. Rivetot, his assistant and ... See full summary »

Director: Patrice Leconte
Stars: Gérard Jugnot, Jean Rochefort, Sylvie Granotier
Monsieur Hire (1989)
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A recluse is accused of murdering a young woman simply because his neighbors think he is strange.

Director: Patrice Leconte
Stars: Michel Blanc, Sandrine Bonnaire, Luc Thuillier
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Antoine has always been fascinated with a hairdresser's delicate touch, the beguiling perfume and the figure of a woman with an opulent bosom, moreover, he knew that he would marry one, fulfilling his dream of a perfect and idealised love.

Director: Patrice Leconte
Stars: Jean Rochefort, Anna Galiena, Roland Bertin
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In a small French colony, a drunken man kills someone. While a guillotine is being shipped in, he changes, becoming a good and popular man.

Director: Patrice Leconte
Stars: Juliette Binoche, Daniel Auteuil, Emir Kusturica
Adventure | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

During a routine transfer of prisoners from one jail to another, an accused cop killer, Paul Brandon, is temporarily chained to a con with only a year left to serve, Stéphane Carella. Paul ... See full summary »

Director: Patrice Leconte
Stars: Bernard Giraudeau, Gérard Lanvin, Christiane Jean
Adventure | Comedy | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

The life story of the titular Beaumarchais (Fabrice Luchini), playwright and adventurer, who gets himself into numerous different scrapes and romantic encounters in 18th Century France.

Director: Édouard Molinaro
Stars: Fabrice Luchini, Manuel Blanc, Sandrine Kiberlain
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Employees of a beauty parlor in search of love and happiness.

Director: Tonie Marshall
Stars: Nathalie Baye, Bulle Ogier, Samuel Le Bihan
Tango (1993)
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Vincent, a stunt pilot, is acquitted of murdering his wife and her lover. However, a few years later, L'Elegant, the Judge in the case, comes to blackmail him. The Judge's nephew, Paul, is ... See full summary »

Director: Patrice Leconte
Stars: Philippe Noiret, Richard Bohringer, Thierry Lhermitte
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

One night, a fading entertainer intervenes when a woman contemplates suicide, beginning a strange, unpredictable relationship.

Director: Patrice Leconte
Stars: Vanessa Paradis, Daniel Auteuil, Frédéric Pfluger
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A bank robber arrives to do a job in a small French town and strikes up a friendship with a retired poetry teacher.

Director: Patrice Leconte
Stars: Jean Rochefort, Johnny Hallyday, Jean-François Stévenin
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Three men, three women, opposites, possibilities, and tastes. Castella owns a industrial steel barrel plant in Rouen; Bruno is his flute-playing driver, Franck is his temporary bodyguard ... See full summary »

Director: Agnès Jaoui
Stars: Anne Alvaro, Jean-Pierre Bacri, Alain Chabat
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Francis, the boss of a small plumbing supply company, is harassed by tax collectors, striking employees, and an impossible wife and daughter. His only joy is sharing lunch with his friend ... See full summary »

Director: Étienne Chatiliez
Stars: Michel Serrault, Eddy Mitchell, Sabine Azéma
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Ponceludon
... Bellegarde
... Mme de Blayac
... Mathilde (as Judith Godreche)
... Vilecourt
Bernard Dhéran ... Montalieri
Carlo Brandt ... Milletail
... Abbé de l'Epée
... Louis XVI
... Baron de Guéret
Bruno Zanardi ... Paul
Marie Pillet ... Charlotte
Jacques Roman ... Chevernoy
Philippe Magnan ... Baron de Malenval
Maurice Chevit ... le Notaire
Edit

Storyline

In the periwigged and opulent France of Louis XVI, an unwitting nobleman soon discovers that survival at court demands both a razor wit and an acid tongue. Written by Dawn M. Barclift

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Wit is the ultimate weapon. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for graphic nudity, some sexuality and brief violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Miramax [United States]

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

22 November 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Baronul  »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

FRF 50,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$48,539, 24 November 1996, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$2,503,829, 23 March 1997
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

|

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Opening film at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival. See more »

Quotes

Abbe de Vilecourt: Half naked and with the name of Stinking Bear, and he almost makes us look ridiculous.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Baghead (2008) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
At the court of Louis XVI before the guillotine
27 September 2002 | by See all my reviews

This reminds me a lot of Dangerous Liaisons (1988) and Valmont (1989) in its cynicism and sharp wit. Set in France during the same time period (the eve of the French Revolution--that's the eighteenth century, reviewers), Ridicule concentrates not so much on sexual intrigues (although there is plenty of that) but on cynical wit as though in homage to Voltaire, France's master of satire whose spirit is suffused throughout.

First a warning. Don't let the rather gross crudity of the opening scene mislead you. That is meant merely as satire, not as a presaging of further crudities to come. It is also meant as a kind of cinematic joke since there is no comparable female nudity in the entire film. Indeed, there is no comparable, shall we say "expression," anywhere in legitimate filmdom that I am aware of. So let it pass or close your eyes.

Charles Berling stars as Gregoire Ponceludon de Malavoy, a country engineer who comes to Versailles to get financial backing to drain a swamp to save the peasants who are dying of mosquito-borne disease. ("Peasants feed aristocrats as well as mosquitos.") He discovers very quickly that a way to an audience with Louis XVI is through gaining a reputation as a clever courtier. Guided by M. Bellegarde (Jean Rochefort), a retired courtier himself, Ponceludon quickly picks up the games of wit and ridicule that reign at court. His quick and clever mind and youthful good looks gain the attention of the king's mistress, Madame de Blayac (Fanny Ardant) who demonstrates how access to the king can come through her bedroom. Ponceludon is sincere only in his desire to drain the swamp and so readily allows himself to become another of Blayac's lovers in exchange for a chance to present his program to Louis XVI.

At the same time he meets Bellegarde's daughter Mathide (Judith Godrèche), an idealistic beauty with a scientific bent, who is betrothed to a dying old man of wealth and position. They fall in love, but their differing agendas keep them apart.

What makes this film such a delight is the delicious way it satirizes the decadent court of Louis XVI. The dramatic irony is superb and absolute in the sense that at no time does director Patrice Leconte give even the slightest hint that any of the byzantine sycophants at court are aware that Danton and the Terror await them. Throw in the impending Industrial (and scientific) Revolution symbolized in the form of Ponceludon and Mathide, and the ancien régime with its antiquated feudal titles and corrupt privilege is seen for what it was, a parasitic anachronism, ripe to rot for destruction.

The sets, the direction and especially the acting are excellent. Veteran Rochefort is particularly good in a part that depends on a directive and expressive face amid the whispers at court. Berling is smooth and believable as a man with a noble mission, adroit at repartee, love and dueling, a modest and earnest hero.

Godrèche is good, but seems a little restrained here. She is an impossibly healthy, handsome beauty no man could resist. I first saw her as a 17-year-old in The Disenchanted (1990) where her adolescent charm was carefully and craftily displayed by director Benoît Jacquot. Here Leconte concentrates on her strength of character.

Fanny Ardant's Madame de Blayac is a Machiavellian mistress of love's duplicity, very much like the Marquise de Merteuil from Dangerous Liaisons and Valmont. Her performance compares favorably with that of Glenn Close and Annette Bening, respectively, although there is an earthy quality to Ardant that seems most realistic. Her character is also more vulnerable.

The sets are sumptuous without being artificially showy. The gray, high-topped wigs and the beaked-nosed masks at ball are charming and, along with the gilded attire, the caked makeup, etc., somehow suggest the true state of costume and personal hygiene circa 1784, reminding me that in those days people did not generally wear underpants or take showers.

Some bon mots:

"The soul of wit is to know one's place."

When asked by the king to say something witty about the king himself, Ponceludon returns: "The king is not a subject." The king asks if this is not a (lowly) pun, but is assured that it is a "play on words."

When Blayac discerns that Ponceludon is not entirely smitten with her, she responds, "Learn to hide your insincerity so that I may yield without dishonor."

The film closes with a scene in England on a cliff overlooking the English channel. Bellegarde and another reflect on the changes after the revolution: "Wit was the very air we breathed." "Now the bloated rhetoric of Danton rules in place of wit." Bellegarde's hat is blown off by the wind. His companion remarks: "Better your hat than your head."

By the way, the subtitles (and this is usually not the case) are excellent, inventive and faithful enough, while comfortably brief, to have been done by a professional translator instead of by someone handy who is passably bilingual.

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)


42 of 45 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 49 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial