Based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas, the film is set around the events of the 1572 Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in Paris. (The 16th century in Europe was a particularly nasty period in terms of religious unrest.)
What’s so amazing, amongst other things, is the movie’s stunningly beautiful, yet grotesque aesthetic. This is not a movie for the squeamish (especially during the massacre scene). It’s sex, massacre, scheming, blood and grime throughout – never a dull moment.
Directed by Patrice Chéreau, “La Reine Margot” is just like a Caravaggio come to life. Always evident is blood, dirt and grime – on the streets, in the Louvre Palace and especially on the people – just like the dirty fingernails of a Caravaggio character and, like a Caravaggio painting, this sordid combination also creates a sublimely beautiful image throughout. It puts me in mind of the quote by Rei Kawakubo – “that which is beautiful is not necessarily pretty.”
Photo courtesy of indyfilmblog.com.
The cast is perfection. Virna Lisi is magnificent and malevolent as Catherine de Medici, Isabelle Adjani is stunning as Marguerite de Valois (a.k.a. Margot) and the oh-so-smoldering Vincent Pérez, as her lover La Môle, will make you melt into a pool of goo.
This weekend I’ll be plotting, scheming and looking horrified in a blood stained corset – just for the sheer, irresistible, goddamn glamour of it all.