A/V Room









Rois et Reine (Kings and Queen) (15)

Review by: Veronica Blake | Rating: Two

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 bare.

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 in Casino.

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, at last.

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 next.

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 the cinema.

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 Festival 2004.

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