This visually lush film takes place in France at the commencement of the eight wars (1562-98) waged between the Catholics and the Huguenots (anyone not Catholic: Lutheran, Calvinist, Anabaptist). A byproduct of the Council of Trent (1545-63) in which the Catholic Church condemns the heresies of the Protestants. I would have preferred a plot focusing on the warring factions, their philosophies, debates, their commandments, their gruesome and pointless deaths. Instead we are beleaguered with the vicissitudes of beautiful Marie (Melanie Thierry) a woman of such loveliness that she inspires love and lust in all male counterparts. I found the plot pretentious, predictable and trite. Once again we have a woman bartered, traded like pork bellies on the masculine commodity exchange. Once spoiled, relegated to the “get thee to a nunnery” market.
Historically, in 1542 Spanish explorer Francisco de Orellana discovers the Amazon river and a tribe of warlike women. There are towns, villages in Mexico and India where females, with their unique procreative skills dominate, master and reign supreme in a world mapped, defined by their politics and constitution.
Lambert Wilson (“Of Gods and Men”) is the Count de Chabannes, one of the first conscientious objectors; gives up the savagery of battle to tutor (hence falls in love) with Marie. Sad, he seemed far too intelligent to succumb to Marie’s superficial, less than scholarly, sixteen- year- old charms, alas proving the intransigent potency of the “mind below the belt”. The two cousins, one she loves the other forced to marry for family fortunes, one a feckless cad, the other a jealous, insecure wimp.
The battle scenes and the sweeping, lustrous landscapes lend a richness and depth absent in the characters. It would have been more appropriately named “The Prisoner of Montpensier” which was my state for the majority of “The Princess of Montpensier”.
TWO & 1/2 STARS !! (OUT OF FIVE)