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
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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I wanted to watch this film because of an interest in the period, and in that sense, I wasn't disappointed. For someone without a nitpicky, in-depth knowledge of the era, I thought the 'court' costumes were stunning, and the 'love scene' was made all the more interesting because of the layers of clothes Hilary Swank had to get through!
I wasn't aware of the details of 'true story' beforehand, and so I didn't have any cause to object to the 'Hollywood interpretation', nor would I now. I can recognise the difference between a movie and a documentary, and don't think the former should necessarily sacrifice its magic for each and every fact of the latter. The opening flashback, recounting the events of Jeanne's childhood, however, was a little too formulaic - the hazy, sunset meadow setting, with the young Jeanne on a swing, and her father returning home to his pregnant wife, reminded me of the opening to the dire 'Musketeer', which I started to watch for similar reasons. More 'syrupy' than magical.
I would prefer a film, particularly an adaptation, where French characters are played by French actors. A perfect 'experiment' would be a faithful portrayal of Orczy's 'Scarlet Pimpernel', with an English actor who can break into believable French! Until that ceiling-smashing film comes, however, I think English actors are less 'distracting' in such roles than their American counterparts. At least 'BBC English' can be mentally interpreted as aristocratic French, and (true) Cock-er-nies, or Northern English accents, taken as the language of the 'people'. Hilary Swank's American drawl sat awkwardly with the era and the setting. I know that an American film has every right to select an American actress, but if such a choice is perfectly fitting, then why was Hilary Swank desperately trying to clip her natural speech into a forced British accent? Her lines sounded like a high school recital. Adrien Brody suited the part physically, and I loved the scene with the doctor after he was accidentally shot, although it did seem slightly 'Carry On ..'-esque. The rest of the film seemed to demand he should have been fatally wounded. With the light-weight Simon Baker, I just kept wondering which Australian soap I recognised him from (Heartbreak High).
There were a number of fade outs towards the end of the film where I thought the credits should have rolled - I agree with a previous review, in that there really wasn't enough story to sustain nearly two hours of film - but, in the style of Spielberg's 'A.I.', the bulk of the running time was easy enough to watch.
A superficially well-dressed dramatisation.
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