Actor, director, writer, producer, all round amazing guy, as far as I’m concerned Alan Rickman can really do no wrong. And while he doesn’t hit any real heights with his film, A Little Chaos, it’s not a disaster either.
His second foray into directing following 1997’s The Winter Guest, which was moderately received by critics and more well-liked by fans, A Little Chaos is a romantic period drama following Sabine de Barra (Kate Winslet), a strong-willed and talented landscape designer, who is invited to compete and subsequently chosen to build one of the main gardens at King Louis XIV’s new palace at Versailles. Sabine challenges both gender and class barriers while also becoming professionally and romantically involved with the court’s renowned landscape artist André Le Notre (Matthias Schoenaerts).
With lush costumes and stunning landscapes it’s easy to forgive the other more unconvincing aspects of the film, namely the historical inaccuracies. Momentum does lag and the plot gets a little weighed down by those elaborate wigs but all in all it is a satisfying experience and an absolute treat for the senses. Lacking dramatic edge and probably more episodic in nature than organically flowing (it feels as if it moves in fits and starts), it’s the actors who really shine here and keep the experience entertaining.
Stanley Tucci is an under sung and as usual over-delivering delight in his role. Winslet is strong, passionate and entirely convincing as Sabine (an invented character with no historical merit), Rickman can do no wrong in his role as Louis XIV and Matthias Schoenaerts gets the job done as the young landscape architect.
The best scene is probably when Louis removes his wig after an exhausting morning of being King and Sabine mistakes him for a horticulturalist she is due to meet. What ensues is a delightful conversation about roses and forbidden love, played superbly by the two screen veterans.
Subtle and rather delicate, it’s not traversing any new territory and don’t expect big dramatic scenes, it is as its title suggests, A Little Chaos.
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