If you only look through the viewfinder of your camera, you may miss out on experiencing a beautiful sunrise. What I am trying to say and remind myself of, is to look at the big picture. When I am visiting a new place, I get so wrapped up in making sure I shoot the perfect pictures, I sometimes forget to look around and see everything around me. It is like being self-absorbed to the point, shall we say, where one is so focused on what color to paint the walls of their house, that they are not focusing on the cracked foundation which is about to make the building fall down. It was this type of mentality of centering on one’s self that added the humor to this war story. Crazy as it may sound, this movie was able to take Nazis, heavy water for nuclear reactions, a dead body, infatuation and turn out a crazy, fun film. Isabelle Adjani (Queen Margot, Subway) was wonderful playing actress Viviane Denvers; who indignantly slapped a man in the face for being fresh with her. He immediately died. From that moment a chain of events was put into place where government official Jean-Etienn Beaufort, played by Gerard Depardieu (Cyrano de Bergerac, The Man in the Iron Mask), followed Miss Denvers as she made her way to Bordeaux, France. With the country on the verge of becoming Nazi occupied, it was imperative that Camille, played by Virginie Ledoyen (The Beach; Farewell, My Queen), kept the only containers of heavy water out of enemy hands. Into this great cast add Peter Coyote (A Walk to Remember, Bitter Moon) as mysterious Alex Winckler and try to keep up with the thrills and zaniness in this Cesar Award winning movie. I especially enjoyed Isabelle in her role, looking perfect as a movie star from the 1940’s. What a great antidote to unwind and watch a group of self-absorbed characters missing the big picture taking place around them. French, German, Italian with English subtitles.
3 stars — DVD
“Let them eat cake” is a famous quote that we attribute to Marie Antoinette. Actually there is no record of her really uttering those words, but the quote has come to symbolize the disconnect between the wealthy upper class and the impoverished lower class. Many of us were taught about the French Revolution in our high school European history class. This movie dealt with the final days of Louis XVI’s monarchy. What fascinated me about this wonderful film was how it was seen through the eyes of Marie Antoinette’s reader. This was way before there were electronic readers and books on tape. Sidonie Laborde, played by Lea Seydoux (Midnight in Paris, Robin Hood) was the servant assigned to read to Marie Antoinette, played by Diane Kruger (Unknown, Inglourious Basterds). I found the concept of a reader a bit odd, but I so enjoyed the way this version of the monarchy’s downfall unfolded. Diane was beautiful in this role as the remarkable queen holed up in the opulent Versailles castle, carrying out her daily desires, keeping her female confidant close by; while word of an uprising in Paris spread throughout the gossiping servants. With tension building among the members of the royal court, chaos sputtered into life through the castle. We had the beauty of Versailles on display, the consistent pacing and fine acting which made this film a fresh version of French history. No readers will be allowed into the theater; you will have to do your own reading, since the film was done in French with English subtitles.