Review by: Veronica Blake | Rating:
ONE of the nicest aspects of living in London is the joy of seeing
a little gem of a French film at the Renoir on a wet Sunday afternoon.
Be it a classic, like Jean Vigo’s L’Atlante, or the
equally brilliant Rois et Reine.
The French have a gift for storytelling, of human emotions laid
Kings and Queen is a story of such epic uman emotion that you
are swept up in and totally absorbed by the characters. This was
director Arnaud Desplechin’s aim ('I hope we will shake
you up a little').
Arnaud had a single guideline for his co-writer, Roger Bohbot:
"Be brutal. Out with melancholy or discrete humour. Be brutally
tragic, and brutally comic."
The result is a raw emotional Gallic Macbeth which will sweep
you off your feet.
The story centres on Nora, a woman surrounded by darkness and
lonliness, like Hitchcock’s frigid Marnie or Sharon Stone
Norah does not reveal herself until later in the film when frightened
to reveal her true self, her buttoned up emotions fall apart and
the dark recesses of her soul are revealed to shocking consequence,
leaving a trail of despair and tragedy in her wake.
Kings and Queen tells two separate
stories. At first we see the ambitious, bright and beautiful Nora
Cotterelle, young and bereaved, soon to marry a suitable man,
The second storyline centres on the decline and fall of Ismael
Vuillard, brilliantly portrayed by Mathieu Amalric.
Their stories intersect when Nora visits Ismael and asks him
to adopt her son, Elias.
We follow Nora as she is forced to deal with the agony of her
father, as long buried memories surface…
Ismael, convinced of his own tragic destiny, fares pretty well
in the hospital, passing from one grotesque experience to the
At last Nora and Ismael will meet for the last time. He won’t
adopt Elias, telling the boy he can do nothing for him, that he
has nothing to offer. Though clearly the boy loves him and he
would be the perfect father.
Two disparate stories, inextricably linked…raw, comic,
melancholic, mournful.. like the worst family wedding or funeral,
when long buried truths are revealed, sometimes to shocking consequence.
We see two people: Nora, a woman who dives into memories that
threaten to consume her: and Ismael, a man imprisoned by his own
feelings while rushing towards freedom.
Kings and Queen will remain with you long after you have left
It was the well deserved recipient of the Best French Film Award
by the French Critics' Union, and this year’s Cesar Award
for Best Actor and was the Official Selection of the Venice Film