A Little Chaos may not be wholly ridiculous, but neither is it Ridicule, the 1996 Patrice Leconte film in which an 18th-century nobleman collided with the pitiless barriers of protocol surrounding the Sun King at Versailles.
In Alan Rickman’s historical fantasia, a plain-speaking horticulturalist (Kate Winslet) equipped with common sense and bouquets of rose metaphors effortlessly cuts through court pomp to touch the heart of Louis XIV (Monsieur Rickman lui-même, his basso moan never so imperiously weary).
Winslet’s Madame de Barra also affects André le Notre, master gardener and thwarted romantic, whose bed, it turns out, could use a little tending. He’s played by in-demand Euro-hunk Matthias Schoenaerts, stiffly morose and looking a lot like Vladimir Putin in Ozzy Osbourne’s hair. Luxuriously decorous, the film features a few enjoyable character turns – not least Helen McCrory, bristling with feline malevolence.
Winslet digs in pluckily, like Charlie Dimmock in fine brocade, with a look of permanent perplexity and, oddly, heavy overtones of Emma Thompson. As the film veers wildly from poised badinage to skullduggery to florid melodrama, a little chaos isn’t the half of it.
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