Meewella | Critic

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Tag: Vincent Cassel

QuickView: The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan (2023)

“I don’t insinuate. I am the King.”

Louis XIII

Since the invention of cinema, Alexander Dumas’ swashbuckling serial of adventure and intrigue has provided fertile inspiration for filmmakers. This decade’s update arrives as a two-part French epic, the first French adapation in over 60 years. Opening with a brawl in mud and rain, D’Artagnan begins his adventure by literally pulling himself out of a shallow grave, setting the film’s darker tone. Martin Bourboulon contrasts the grimy streets of Paris with the warm golds of the aristocracy’s furnishings. The impressive cinematography keeps action visible even in the dark, whilst maintaining a strictly controlled colour palette, most scenes featuring only a single hue. At times the film subtly adopts D’Artagnan’s perspective through sound design and visuals, like the muffled audio as he recovers after being flung from his horse, or a nighttime ambush where we see only the blades of his attackers as they strike from off-screen. The biggest names deliver the most impressive performances — a brooding Vincent Cassel as the falsely accused Athos, and Eva Green vamping as Richelieu’s spy, Milady. Played straight (though retaining a dash of humour), the pacing may be a little slow for some viewers but I found this to be easily the most polished of The Three Musketeers’ recent adaptations.


QuickView: Trance (2013)

“To be yourself you have to constantly remember yourself.”


After opening with an art heist, Trance takes a sudden psychological turn that spins the entire film into one of unreliable perspective as one of the thieves struggles to remember where he stashed a stolen painting. Although this is established early on, there is rarely a way to distinguish fantasy and reality so the audience is dragged along for the ride in a passive role. That would not matter if the film had greater depth than its central conceit but none of the leads are given any character development and only Rosario Dawson has sufficient material to shine. The script is overreliant on twists to keep the viewer engaged, and the result is the inverse — we never trust that there are stakes to anything we see. The writers are able to shift audience sympathies between the characters effectively, though the voiceovers are frequently heavy-handed (“No piece of art is worth a human life”). I do enjoy films that leave aspects open to interpretation, but by the end Trance felt frustratingly inconsequential — a disappointment from a director as capable as Danny Boyle.


QuickView: Tale of Tales (2015)

Tale of Tales quad poster

“You want a child? A violent desire such as yours can only be satisfied with violence.”


Adult-orientated fantasy adapted from the stories of Italian poet Giambattista Basile, Tale of Tales serves as a reminder that there is nothing inherently infantile about fairy tales in their purest form. An unkindly reductive description might be Eurotrash fairy tales, between Vincent Cassel’s debaucherous king, the jealous motherly love of Salma Hayek’s queen and a clowning Toby Jones (who did, after all, attend the school of Jacques Lecoq in Paris). To the extent that there is a running thread between the various stories, it is that any desire for change in one’s circumstances is inherently violent and has a corresponding cost, whether it is borne by oneself or by others.


"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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