La Princesse de Montpensier

( 1 )


A beautiful woman struggles with the three men who control her life and the one who has won her heart in this historical drama from director Bertrand Tavernier. In 1567, France is mired in a civil war between Catholics and Huguenots early Protestants, and the Marquis de Mézières Philippe Magnan is eager to form an alliance with the Duc de Montpensier Michel Vuillermoz. With this in mind, the marquis strikes a deal in which his beautiful daughter Marie Mélanie Thierry will wed Philippe Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet, ...
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A beautiful woman struggles with the three men who control her life and the one who has won her heart in this historical drama from director Bertrand Tavernier. In 1567, France is mired in a civil war between Catholics and Huguenots early Protestants, and the Marquis de Mézières Philippe Magnan is eager to form an alliance with the Duc de Montpensier Michel Vuillermoz. With this in mind, the marquis strikes a deal in which his beautiful daughter Marie Mélanie Thierry will wed Philippe Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet, Montpensier's son. Marie is not especially happy with this notion, as she's fallen in love with Henri de Guise Gaspard Ulliel, her handsome cousin, but she dutifully agrees to the match, and soon Marie and Philippe are sharing an estate in the countryside. However, Philippe is soon called up to fight in the civil war, and he asks his friend and tutor the Comte de Chabannes Lambert Wilson to look after Marie while he's gone. Marie is bright but not educated, and Chabannes is asked to educate her in intellectual and social matters; as he gets to know Marie, he falls deeply in love with her, but she's already divided in her loyalties between her husband and the man she truly loves. Adapted from the classic novel by Madame de La Fayette, La Princesse de Montpensier aka The Princess of Montpensier was an official selection at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival.
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Special Features

Trailer; Interviews
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Nathan Southern
Bertrand Tavernier's The Princess of Montpensier opens in 1567, with France mired in a brutal religious civil war, bloodily torn asunder between the Catholic loyalists and the Huguenot heretics. The Marquis de Mézières Philippe Magnan strikes a bargain with the Duc de Montpensier Michel Vuillermoz that will wed the Marquis' gorgeous, virginal daughter, Marie Mélanie Thierry, to Montpensier's son, Philippe Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet -- though the intendeds have scarcely glimpsed each other. This throws a serious kink into Marie's plans by nixing her impending marriage to cousin Henri de Guise Gaspard Ulliel, with whom she is completely smitten. Meanwhile, Philippe's former tutor, the middle-aged Comte de Chabannes Lambert Wilson withdraws from the ongoing religious struggle after accidentally stabbing and killing a pregnant woman. He joins the now-married Philippe and Marie en route to their rustic castle home of Mont-sur-Brac and takes up residence there, tutoring Marie on many subjects. Inevitably, Chabannes falls in love with the young woman, yet he resists acting on his desires; meanwhile, she not only continues to draw the amorous attentions of Henri and Philippe, but also elicits advances from the slimy Duc d'Anjou Raphaël Personnaz, and therefore emerges as the object of an ongoing rivalry between three hotheaded and blindly passionate young men. Most remarkable in the film is the subtle understatement of the devotion between Marie and Chabannes. The movie bears its heart and soul in the early scenes that have Chabannes tutoring the young woman and visibly growing attached to her but resisting the temptation to make any physical advances, in part out of loyalty to Philippe. So convincing is Chabannes' emotional transition that the one occasion when he makes an offhanded comment about his affection for the princess seems to be underscoring the obvious. This slight misstep aside, the draw between them is commendably low-key yet detectable -- a convincing romance that hurdles over enormous obstacles in this case, age and class disparities but nevertheless remains slightly buried just under the surface of the immediately apparent. Tavernier makes it clear that Chabannes' feelings toward Marie exist on a different level than those of Henri, d'Anjou, or Philippe. Chabannes is an enabler, a cultivator of her intellectual advancement who appreciates her finest emotional gifts; the others seem to covet her affections to possess her and gratify their own libidinous desires. This explains why he stays aloof and detached from the romantic and sexual manipulations of the other men -- to sink to their level would mean compromising the integrity of his adoration for Marie. All of this is deeply moving and endearing, though it unfortunately takes up too little screen time. In lieu of trusting the Chabannes-Marie relationship enough to let it sustain the action, Tavernier ultimately shifts his dramatic focal point to the intrigues of the husband and the suitors, with machinations designed to capture Marie's heart that occupy center stage during the second act. This is an unwise decision -- the men are so grating, and so off-putting, that we could scarcely care less about their foolish head games. A fraction of this would have been fine; as the movie stands, the petty romantic rivalries are far overwrought. Fortunately, though, the film rebounds somewhat in its last 20 minutes. We've sensed all along that Marie is reciprocally drawn to Chabannes, but we aren't clear on the degree of her interest. In the closing sequence, Tavernier finally gives us a clear sense, and the scene that discloses this completes the emotional puzzle set up by the tutoring sequences. It's an enormously satisfying catharsis. The film also deserves merit for its unusual ambition. Through Marie's plight, Tavernier seems interested in grafting a contemporary perspective about love, romance, and sex onto a setting where male-female relationships seem traditionally guided by political needs and manipulative families. Tavernier not only reminds the audience that allowing the romantic desires of one's heart to dictate the future is a relatively recent notion, but makes the movie's core emotionally modern. For this reason, perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that Montpensier's emotional landscape actually recalls two very different contemporary films: the commendably low-key yet detectable attraction between Chabannes and Marie suggests the Max-Jackie romance at the heart of Tarantino's Jackie Brown, while our longing for Marie to escape from the men's grotesque sexual intrigues and head for Chabannes' arms suggests Joe Buck's need to abandon hustling and return to Ratso Rizzo at the end of Midnight Cowboy. The Princess of Montpensier may not be a perfect film, but it's certainly a fascinating situation when a romantic epic set in 16th century France reminds one of two urban dramas set in the 20th century -- perhaps a cinematic first.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/11/2011
  • UPC: 030306978994
  • Original Release: 2010
  • Rating:

  • Source: Ifc Independent Film
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Subtitled
  • Time: 2:20:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 7,811

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Mélanie Thierry Marie de Mézières, Marie de Montpensier
Lambert Wilson Francois de Chabannes
Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet Philippe de Montpensier
Gaspard Ulliel Henri de Guise
Raphaël Personnaz Duc d'Anjou
Anatole de Bodinat Joyeuse
Eric Rulliat Quelus
Samuel Theis La Valette
Michel Vuillermoz Duc de Montpensier
Judith Chemla Catherine de Guise
Philippe Magnan Marquis de Mézières
César Domboy Mayenne
Jean Pol Dubois Cardinal de lorraine
Florence Thomassin Marquise de Mézières
Technical Credits
Bertrand Tavernier Director, Original Story, Screenwriter
Frederic Bourboulon Executive Producer
Laurent Brochand Associate Producer
Sophie Brunet Editor
Bruno de Keyzer Cinematographer
Caroline de Vivaise Costumes/Costume Designer
Guy-Claude Francois Production Designer, Set Decoration/Design
Valérie Othnin Girard Asst. Director
Francois Hamel Production Manager
Eric Heumann Producer
Olivier Dô Hùu Sound/Sound Designer
Jean Cosmos Screenwriter
Gerard Moulevrier Casting
Valerie Othenin-Girard Asst. Director
Elisabeth Paquotte Sound/Sound Designer
Francois Olivier Rousseau Original Story, Screenwriter
Philippe Sarde Score Composer
Olivier Schwob Sound/Sound Designer
Marc Sillam Associate Producer
Chris Squires Camera Operator
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Princess of Montpensier
1. Opening Credits [7:38]
2. You'll Be Hanged [7:17]
3. Pleasant Surprise [10:24]
4. Close Your Eyes [9:39]
5. Spare Yourself [11:45]
6. Already a Sin [8:23]
7. You Must Write [8:15]
8. Heard You Playing [11:27]
9. Only By Chance [10:15]
10. Marrying Again [8:41]
11. God is my Witness [3:09]
12. Cover Yourself [6:38]
13. Open Up [4:26]
14. Say the Word [4:42]
15. People of His Nature [8:55]
16. Ending Credits [6:49]
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Disc #1 -- Princess of Montpensier
      Interview with Historical Advisor Didier Le Fur
      Interview with Actor Mélanie Thierry and Raphaël Personnaz
      Interview with Bertrand Tavernier
         English SDH
         Subtitles: Off
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Desperate Houselords: Love, Lust & Loss in 16th Century France

    For a film titled after a central female character, THE PRINCESS OF MONTPENSIER is a bit of an anomaly. There's definitely a princess in there, but the film seems far more at ease when exploring the personalities of the various men in her life, of which there were plenty. This isn't to say that she's marginalized as a character; much like Helen of Troy from the Trojan War, the young princess Marie (played by Melanie Thierry) stirs up much passion in the lives of men surrounding her. She delivers them to love. She stirs them to combat. She even forces them to think. But, also like the ill-fated Helen, her story centers of the tragedies she cannot escape. Beauty may be only skin deep, but its effects can withstand several lifetimes. Marie de Mezieres loves her ruffian-cousin, Henri de Guise (Gaspard Ulliel), but, in order to secure noble standing as well as property, her scheming father promises her hand in marriage to the Prince de Montpensier (Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet). The "transaction" is sealed - indeed, the wedding and first coitus are witnessed by members of both families - and the prince orders his bride to be taken to his castle far away from lands currently waging war, Catholics versus Protestants. Once there, Marie is to be watched over and tutored to assume her role in society by the prince's aide, Comte de Chabannes, a deserter given asylum by his one-time enemies. Under Chabannes' watchful eyes, Marie becomes an aristocrat in her own right - a regular 16th century feminist - while she unknowingly awakens his heart to love again. Pursuing historical accuracy for his period drama, director Bertrand Tavernier recognized that his cast needed to be deliberately centered around young actors. After all, life expectancy in 16th century France was likely in the mid-30's to early-40's, with young males starting their own families by age 14. (These facts are clarified by a French historian in one of the disc's slim but helpful extra features.) As a consequence, the average twenty-year-old back then had lived a fuller life - with more useful life experience for the times - compared to today's average twenty-year-old. Hence, Tavernier took a gamble in crafting a historical epic around young lovers when most studios probably would've preferred securing more established, bankable A-list talent to tell the story of emotional depth, unrequited love, and grand wartime spectacle. Most importantly, does the risk pay off? The results are mixed. While none of the younger males in the story show decidedly great range, the script never truly calls for it. Leprince-Ringuet, as the somewhat self-tortured prince, gets the most screen time of the younger male leads, and he ably handles the highs and lows of armed conflict down to the quieter moments with his young bride. The rest of the men seem to be playing mostly with limited focus: Raphael Personnaz chews a bit of scenery as the shrewdly duplicitous Duc d'Anjou (heir to the throne), and Ulliel adequately captures youth's carelessness with abandon. These three play well off one another - succinctly, they play far more effectively off one another than Thierry, as the princess, plays off any one of them - and that's mostly because each represents a different passion in life: principle, carnal lust, and power. The princess's story is far more interesting when these young houselords (the seduction of comfort versus t

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