A Little Chaos


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

A Little Chaos 1
"Too niche to reach"

Creating "an outdoor ballroom" in the gardens at Versailles for Louis XIV might be considered horticulturally sexy but for townies sans wellies it feels too niche to reach.

Everything depends on the lady, otherwise referred to as Sabine De Barra. Since she is played by Kate Winslet the film has a heart and a soul, despite Alan Rickman's directing skills (erratic at best) and performance as The Sun King (flabby at worst).

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The story of Sabine winning the competition to build a water feature, disguised as an amphitheatre, involves the support and patronage of the King's landscape artist, Andre Le Notre (Matthias Shoenaerts), whose wife is a scheming bitch, which gives him carte blanche (sort of) to play away. He doesn't (well, a bit) because his true love is his work.

The script lacks poetry and drama.

Sabine to King: "I remember the day of your wedding."

King to Sabine: "I hope so. It cost enough."

(polite chuckle)

Louis' court is adorned with poseurs from the Chelsea Arts Ball of the Sixties, made up to the tens and permanently on heat. Le Duc d'Orleans (delightfully camp Stanley Tucci) reflects a silver swathe of cynicism that cuts deep into the aristocratic crust.

De Barra is different. She's a single mother, green fingered and tousled haired with mud in her socks and hands to the pump. Winslet's constant look of bemusement brings Sabine to life in a way that Schoenaerts' designer stubbled hunk-u-like never could.

She is not wasted, however. Without her there is no film, only Tucci hamming to the tune of The Hunger Games and Rickman determined to forget Harry Potter in favour of regal overload.

P.S: no one speaks French.

Reviewed on: 16 Apr 2015
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A landscape gardener is employed by King Louis XIV to transform the gardens at Versailles.
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Director: Alan Rickman

Writer: Alison Deegan, Jeremy Brock, Alan Rickman

Starring: Kate Winslet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Alan Rickman, Stanley Tucci, Helen McCrory, Jennifer Ehle, Steven Waddington

Year: 2014

Runtime: 116 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: UK

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