Parallel storylines tell the current state of affairs for two ex-lovers: Nora's a single mother who comes to care for her terminally ill father; holed in up in mental ward, Ismael, a brillia... Read allParallel storylines tell the current state of affairs for two ex-lovers: Nora's a single mother who comes to care for her terminally ill father; holed in up in mental ward, Ismael, a brilliant musician, plots his escape.Parallel storylines tell the current state of affairs for two ex-lovers: Nora's a single mother who comes to care for her terminally ill father; holed in up in mental ward, Ismael, a brilliant musician, plots his escape.
Secondary characters in this overwritten but always entertaining drama make themselves hard to forget though buffoonery in the case of the Ismaël's junkie lawyer (Hypolytte Girardot); though their neediness, in the case of Arielle, "la Chinoise" a flirtatious 'princess' at the psych hospital, (Magalie Woch) or Nora's sister down-and-out Chloé, (Nathalie Boutefeu); bitchiness in the case of Ismaë's sister. Ismaël's usual shrink is a huge African grande dame; he gets his entrance exam and his walking papers at the hospital from none other than Catherine Deneuve (whose iciness and soulfulness would be an unforgettable blend even if she were not already one of the world's most beautiful sixty-somethings). The women are goddesses, bitches, or queens. Ismaël says women have no souls; but the story's main men are talented but narcissistic problem children. Elias seems poised to grow up into one of those too. Most of the acting is remarkable, or at the very least arresting. The mercurial Amalric and lovely Devos completely live up to their top billing. Still, even their parts might have done with some trimming back.
The movie comes with allusions to Leda and the Swan, Nietsche, Yeats, Emily Dickenson, and a large number of musical references including rap (and a break dancing demo by Ismaël at the mental hospital), Klezmer, Randy Newman and, as a framing device, Moon River. Suspicions that there may be too much going on here are stifled by sheer pleasure in the drama of it all.
Six César nominations in France, where it opened in late 2004.
The title may refer to Shakespeare's plays, or to the way paterfamilias are seen by their children. "Kings and Queen" is wildly unedited and at 2 ½ hours definitely too long; Desplechin even acknowledged repeatedly that his answers to questions after the SFFF showing were too long too. But his inability to edit his work down may be hard to separate from his unique flavor and charm. Desplechin wrote the excellent screenplay for "Un monde sans pitié" ("A World Without Pity," 1989) the story of a fascinating young loser. "Desplechin is a wonder with actresses, at least as long as they're with him: Devos' character is close enough to 'My Sex Life' star and former Desplechin paramour Mariane Denicourt that she responded to the movie with a retaliatory roman à clef," writes Sam Adams in the Philadelphia City Paper. A question about this contretemps met with a flurry of interesting doubletalk from the soft-spoken director.
- Chris Knipp
- Apr 23, 2005