12 September 2016 | dbdumonteil
Beyond fear and (not quite) reproach
French history revisited or how to laugh at the clichés which filled the old (and not so old)grade school history books can give riotously funny movies,as Sacha Guitry showed in the past .
Well,it's Jugnot's wish ,but Guitry's reality;and ,you know,it's not Guitry who wants to.However ,Jugnot's movie ,which got almost only thumb downs when it was theatrically released is not so bad;it is uneven ,for sure,but it features some hilarious moments and ,now and then ,a good line Guitry would not disown.
Historic facts: Bayard never married ,he reportedly had an illegitimate daughter and that's it;yes Jacques De Mailles wrote the story of his feats (probably embroidering them ,as Jugnot tells us in his film);yes,he fought (and defeated) Alsonso De Soto Mayor ;the rest mostly comes from the screenwriters' imagination;Bellabre (portrayed by the director) is a fictitious character which they may have found in an obscure French miniseries by Claude Pierson (1964)
Jugnot's extravaganza has good moments : he turns biographer -give the people what they want,do embellish our epic ,even though it consists of plundering and rapes- Jacques De Mailles( Gerard Darmon pulls it off with gusto) into a gay ,in love with Bayard ;Alfonso De Soto Mayor makes a delightful villain, ideally played by deadpan Roland Giraud ,perfectly sadistic and cruel: take a trip to his chamber of torture where he punishes the sodomites (with a saw) and the cages in which the unfortunate prisoners wait for the ravens that are going to pick their eyes ("you'll see,or should I say,you won't see but you'll hear these nice birds call).
On the other hand ,he does violence to his Bayard.Bayard's scenes should be in direct contrast to the farce around: romantic music,melodramatic lines he exchanges with his one and only love ,Blanche .It follows that pattern quite good in the first hour ,but as soon Jugnot shows the knight stark naked when he thinks he meets again his beloved one or when they make love in a confessional,it throws the movie off balance.ThE light spoof on "star wars " (turgid music à la John Williams ,"the force is in him" says Bellabre) works ,but Bayard depicted as a randy devil does not.
Ticky Hodalgo is excellent as one of those quacks whose only cure was to bleed the sick ...