Napoleon Bonapart (1764-1821) a man of military might, gifted France the Napoleonic Code of Law, still in existence today; established higher education, a central bank and a street and sewer system. So why in the name of filmdom did director Ridley Scott and actor Joaquin Phoenix depict his life as a cartoonish, blubbering, foppish dolt? Phoenix (Academy Award, “The Joker”, Adam Driver, a better choice) is uncomfortable, robotic and profoundly silly in the plasticity of his characterization; the limp, sophomoric script is at best mundane and oftentimes laughable. Just as the movie flirted with its nadir, Vanessa Kirby is introduced as Josephine (1763-1814), portrayed as a bawdy floozie captivating Napoleon with her wiles; for all their grunting intimacy, baffling is the total absence of chemistry.
Susan Jaques’s “The Caesar of Paris” gives just tribute to one of history’s most irresistible figures, a fascinating coveter of Rome’s antiquities, Napoleon said “men are only as great as the monuments they leave behind.” This film will be an iconic example of what should have been left behind.