13 December 2004 | Flippitygibbit
The Americanisation of the Necklace
I wanted to watch this film because of an interest in the period, and in that sense, I wasn't disappointed. For someone without a nitpicky, in-depth knowledge of the era, I thought the 'court' costumes were stunning, and the 'love scene' was made all the more interesting because of the layers of clothes Hilary Swank had to get through!
I wasn't aware of the details of 'true story' beforehand, and so I didn't have any cause to object to the 'Hollywood interpretation', nor would I now. I can recognise the difference between a movie and a documentary, and don't think the former should necessarily sacrifice its magic for each and every fact of the latter. The opening flashback, recounting the events of Jeanne's childhood, however, was a little too formulaic - the hazy, sunset meadow setting, with the young Jeanne on a swing, and her father returning home to his pregnant wife, reminded me of the opening to the dire 'Musketeer', which I started to watch for similar reasons. More 'syrupy' than magical.
I would prefer a film, particularly an adaptation, where French characters are played by French actors. A perfect 'experiment' would be a faithful portrayal of Orczy's 'Scarlet Pimpernel', with an English actor who can break into believable French! Until that ceiling-smashing film comes, however, I think English actors are less 'distracting' in such roles than their American counterparts. At least 'BBC English' can be mentally interpreted as aristocratic French, and (true) Cock-er-nies, or Northern English accents, taken as the language of the 'people'. Hilary Swank's American drawl sat awkwardly with the era and the setting. I know that an American film has every right to select an American actress, but if such a choice is perfectly fitting, then why was Hilary Swank desperately trying to clip her natural speech into a forced British accent? Her lines sounded like a high school recital. Adrien Brody suited the part physically, and I loved the scene with the doctor after he was accidentally shot, although it did seem slightly 'Carry On ..'-esque. The rest of the film seemed to demand he should have been fatally wounded. With the light-weight Simon Baker, I just kept wondering which Australian soap I recognised him from (Heartbreak High).
There were a number of fade outs towards the end of the film where I thought the credits should have rolled - I agree with a previous review, in that there really wasn't enough story to sustain nearly two hours of film - but, in the style of Spielberg's 'A.I.', the bulk of the running time was easy enough to watch.
A superficially well-dressed dramatisation.