Roi Soleil


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Roi Soleil
"By the end, you pray for death - his or your own, whichever would end the boredom faster."

What works as a gallery installation does not always transfer well to film and Albert Serra's latest, Roi Soleil is a case in point.

This filmed performance of a 2017 installation in the Graça Brandao gallery in Lisbon - a follow up to The Death of Louis XIV the previous year - sees Lluís Serrat depict the final moments of Sun King Louis XIV. It may well have connected with audiences in its original setting, who would have, presumably, felt more emotional impact from the groans and sighs as Serrat first walks and then crawls around the red-lit space. Shorn of the immediacy and physicality of observing the actor in close-up, we are left feeling at one remove.

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The point being made, about decadence and excess even in the face of death - we see the king gorging on cake between the groans - might have made for a decent 10 or 15-minute short but it is insufficient to fill the hour, so that the final result ends up feeling almost as excessive as the character. By the end, you pray for death - the king's or your own, whichever would end the pain faster.

Reviewed on: 19 Nov 2018
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Documentation of the Sun King’s final breaths. A filmed performance of an installation.

Director: Albert Serra

Runtime: 62 minutes

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