Love as peril: this is the favorite theme of Madame de Lafayette, who published La Princesse de Montpensier (1662, republished by Livre de Poche in 2003) sixteen years before La Princesse de Clèves . Marie de Mézières promised herself to the young Duke of Guise, known as “le Balafré”. But a Bourbon strategy requires him to marry the Prince of Montpensier, François de Bourbon, prince of royal blood.
The young Marquise de Mézières, Countess of Saint-Fargeau, becomes the stake of a loving and jealous husband, of this adventurer from Guise always on the lookout, of Henri d’Anjou, future Henri III, that the charms of Marie were troubled. And the Count of Chabannes, a madly in love tutor. She rejects one, wavers at the sight of the other, suffers the wrath of a suspicious husband…
Dance of torment fueled by chance, misunderstandings, mask games. It is indeed a love film that Bertrand Tavernier directed, attentive to the suppressed passions from which his characters suffer. A film where he communicates the feeling of pain that too much dignity generates in some.
Affairs of State and Fanaticism
The rest is known to him: this greed with which he seizes a page of history, remaining attentive to the habits and customs of the time without freezing antique images. It is the soul of an era that he captures when he depicts the nuptial ceremony or a ballet of chamber pots, gives the recipe for stuffed eels, shows the dormitory of these gentlemen at the castle. His heroes are as natural as possible despite their costumes, free of wigs.
Verve, camera mobility, permanent concern to marry earthiness with discreet emotions make him find an authenticity mixed with modernism. We kill each other between Catholics and Protestants, affairs of state and fanaticism which take us back to the religious conflicts of today.
Anjou (Raphaël Personnaz) reveals the facetious, ironic and sensitive temperament of a New York dandy. Guise (Gaspard Ulliel) is a bad boy, a fighter of “9-3”. Montpensier (Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet) is a shy nobleman, romantic before fashion. A wonderful figure, Chabannes (Lambert Wilson) displays a kindness of soul that we are happy to believe has existed throughout time.
Tavernier respects the language ( “Monsieur de Guise took fire again for me” ), without compromising the contemporary reading that can be made of this Renaissance story. The Princess of Montpensier is an illustration of a young girl’s right to choose her destiny. The violence committed against young Marie (Mélanie Thierry) by her parents so that she would marry Montpensier is reminiscent of the dictatorship exercised by the big brothers, in environments where virginity and traditions are not joked about. .