A Little Chaos at the Monkey Bar reception

Time out after the US première with Alan Rickman, Ann Curry and more.

by Anne-Katrin Titze

 A Little Chaos with Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman
A Little Chaos with Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Producer Gail Egan, who has worked with Mike Leigh on Mr. Turner, Vera Drake and Happy-Go-Lucky, with Anton Corbijn on A Most Wanted Man, Philip Seymour Hoffman's last role, and with Film4Climate’s Creative Producer Donald Ranvaud on Fernando Meirelles' The Constant Gardener, was celebrated by Alan Rickman. As was his cinematographer, Ellen Kuras, of Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind and Be Kind Rewind as well as first-time composer, Peter Gregson, whose music is well placed in the landscape. Cédric Anger, when I spoke with him on his composer, Grégoire Hetzel, for Next Time I’ll Aim For The Heart, told me he had wanted the music in the forest sound like a cathedral. Hetzel also composed the score for Mathieu Amalric's The Blue Room and the positioning in A Little Chaos is used to similar effect.

A Little Chaos Monkey Bar invitation
A Little Chaos Monkey Bar invitation Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

The Eye Of The Storm director Fred Schepisi and a What Maisie Knew director, were also on the scene. Making a Henry James connection, I suggested to David Siegel a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to take a look at the John Singer Sargent exhibition, opening on June 30. At Monkey Bar, I was seated with Gay Talese, John Buffalo Mailer and Katrina Eugenia. Hyphens, Paul Valéry, where movie flashbacks are effective and where not, came up. Gay had taken a stroll through Andrew Bolton and Wong Kar Wai's China: Through The Looking Glass at the Met last month.

Kate Winslet, in A Little Chaos, plays Sabine de Barra, a landscaper to King Louis XIV (Rickman). She is more comfortable wearing what looks like a massive brown tool belt without tools, and battling the mud, than making conversation with gossipy courtiers in feathery attire.

Landscape architect André Le Nôtre (Matthias Schoenaerts), who is supervising the development of the gardens of Versailles, notices her talents among other things. "Are you a believer in order?" he asks during the job interview. "Isn't there something uniquely French?" Sabine asks him back a few moments later, in her quest for landscape innovation. She gets the job, and Le Nôtre is tempted. He has a wife, Françoise (Helen McCrory), who gets the bad-woman-in-a-movie treatment, complete with curled lips, paid lovers, destructive jealousies and dark purple dresses.

 Directors Alan Rickman and Fred Schepisi
Directors Alan Rickman and Fred Schepisi Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Sabine, the simple woman who at first does not fit in at court, eventually makes friends with the most important power players, the King's gay brother Duc Philippe d'Orleans (Stanley Tucci) and his German wife Elizabeth Charlotte the Princess Palatine (Paula Paul). Tucci plays Philippe with an air of Oscar Levant in The Barkleys of Broadway (1949), directed by Charles Walters, where he counters Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in song about the horrors of "A weekend in the country." Nature is no friend of his.

A beautifully composed shot has the King with André Le Nôtre sitting in two giant eggs in the center of a tiny labyrinth, outside at night with one big fur blanket covering their knees, nibbling macaroons. In closeup, we see a tiny spider crawling up King Louis XIV's neck.

Anne-Katrin Titze: At a perfect moment in the film, a little spider crawls up your neck. Did you place it there? Did you direct it?

Alan Rickman: No! It was nighttime. It was outside. It wanted to be in the film. The spider wanted to be in the film.

AKT: Did the horses cause any trouble? They seemed very lively and a bit nervous.

Monkey Bar reception for A Little Chaos
Monkey Bar reception for A Little Chaos Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Alan Rickman: No, they were good.

News journalist Ann Curry, who walked the red carpet earlier, had praise for the film.

Anne-Katrin Titze: Did you enjoy A Little Chaos?

Ann Curry: I thought it was absolutely stunning and lovely and it caused my entire chest to fill - which is always a good sign with a period piece when that happens. I think Kate Winslet did a spectacular job. It's hard as a woman not to identify with all the struggles she was going through. And Alan, Mr. Rickman, was really terrific in his role and clearly as a director. It's one of the most sumptuous movies I've seen in a long time.

AKT: I liked how he begins the movie with a closed door and a clock and then the entrance of the children.

Ann Curry: It was very intimate. Someone I met just a moment ago made the correct point that it largely was shot outside, which really speaks to the theme of the movie. That had to have its own challenges. There was a lot of mud, no doubt about that.

Ann Curry on the red carpet with Kate Winslet: "I think Kate Winslet did a spectacular job."
Ann Curry on the red carpet with Kate Winslet: "I think Kate Winslet did a spectacular job." Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

AKT: What did you think of the scene with the women where Kate Winslet's character meets them in their separate space in the palace?

Ann Curry: I think the scene was required for the story of the movie, because she was so locked up and something had to unlock her. I thought it led so nicely to the moment when she later said something to defend the reputation of the King's mistress. The kindness that came without some sort of deal being made beforehand. I have no idea if something like that is actually believable but I will say that I loved all the women in there. I would have wanted to sit in that space and talk to those women. And that's the thing I found surprising - how women were sort of volunteering what had happened to them. And it's in that safe space between women in a time when being a woman was dangerous.

A Little Chaos opens in the US on June 26 and was screened in the 2014 London Film Festival and this year's Glasgow Film Festival. It will be released on DVD in the UK in August.

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