Posts Tagged ‘Rupert Everett’

That Corsican Ruffian


Director: Ridley Scott

Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Vanessa Kirby, Rupert Everett, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Tahar Rahim, Sinead Cusack, Ben Miles, Paul Rhys, Ludivine Sagnier, Jannis Niewohner, Julian Wadham, Miles Jupp, Edouard Philipponat

Running Time: 2 hours and 38 minutes

Film Review: 9 out of 10

Oscar nominated veteran director Ridley Scott (Thelma and Louise, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down) helms this meaty historical drama Napoleon, which is magnificent held together by two multifaceted performances by Oscar winner Joaquin Phoenix (Joker) as Napoleon and Oscar nominee Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman) as his wife, lover and soul mate Josephine.

Napoleon is a monumental film starting off with the bloody execution of the last Queen of France Marie Antoinette in 1793 and ending with the completely mind-blowingly epic Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Amidst this vast historical backdrop of war and political intrigue is the scandalous romance of the 19th century the gorgeous and tragic love story of Napoleon and Josephine.

Napoleon a tough, charismatic military general from Corsica in post-revolutionary France proves his military ingenuity and his strategic thinking in securing France’s position in an unstable Europe post the shocking and bloody French Revolution. That Corsican ruffian who skilfully eyed an historic opportunity to seize power in the confusion of the last days of the Reign of Tower by Robespierre, swiftly and efficiently rises to power to crown himself Emperor of France. With ruthless decisiveness, Napoleon seizes power through a military coup, compensating for his abandonment of the Egyptian campaign running from 1798 to 1801, in which France tried to conquer Egypt and Syria against the Ottomans to secure trade interests.

There is a macabre scene in Napoleon when he confronts a mummy in Egypt, with the pyramids shimmering in the Mediterranean heat, whereby he takes off the shroud and reveals the skull sitting defiant staring at the Tyrant symbolically revealing to the French Emperor how much death he will eventually cause.

Amidst massive battles at Austerlitz, Waterloo and the failed attack against the wily and clever Russian Tsar Alexander I wonderfully played by French-Finnish actor Edouard Philipponat, Napoleon’s tumultuous relationship with Josephine is intricately explored through his frustration at not being able to father a child with her.

From Josephine’s viewpoint she has chosen a ruffian, a stubborn brutish man who has changed her destiny and made her an Empress who she simultaneously adores and despises. Kirby and Phoenix are a perfect onscreen couple, their prickly energy is sexually attractive and equally complicated. Like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in Cleopatra, Joaquin Phoenix and Vanessa Kirby portray a complicated and powerful onscreen couple, allowing audiences to watch their fascinating love affair unravel in spectacular fashion playing out on a world stage in which even 19th century gossip columnists could not get enough of Napoleon and Josephine’s salacious love life, complicated by infidelity and infertility, neglect and sexual desire, divorce and estrangement.

Besides the talents of Phoenix and Kirby the rest of the cast is superbly chosen from British actress Sinead Cusack playing Napoleon’s mother Letizia Bonaparte (because let’s face it even tyrants have mothers) to Julian Rhind-Tutt (Blithe Spirit, Rush) as Sieyes and Ben Miles (Woman in Gold, Red Joan) as French politician Caulaincourt.

Others in the cast include Tahar Rahim (The Mauritanian) as Paul Barras to the talented Rupert Everett (The Comfort of Strangers, A Royal Night Out, The Madness of King George) perfectly cast as the pompous but clever Duke of Wellington, the one adversary who Napoleon cannot defeat despite his best military efforts at the crucial battle of Waterloo in 1815.

As a cinematic epic, Napoleon is elevated by a tonally balanced screenplay by David Scarpa who captures the bizarre and brutal zeitgeist of the first heady years of the Napoleonic wars from 1800-18h15. Scarpa deserves an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay.

Napoleon is gorgeously shot with expert cinematography by Oscar nominated Polish cinematography Dariusz Wolski (News of the World) and superbly directed by Ridley Scott who captures the chaos of war, the brutality of one man’s ego and the glamour of ambition combined with the lust to control everything. Napoleon ends off with the battle of Waterloo and a brilliant scene between Joaquin Phoenix and Rupert Everett discussing Napoleon’s untimely exile to St Helena in the South Atlantic.

On every level, Napoleon is a charismatic historical film, a multifaceted and brutal epic, a diatribe on man’s bloodthirsty ambition to create empires and his lust for celebrity status on a world stage.

Napoleon is a historical epic made with a European flair and in the hands of a veteran director like Ridley Scott this film is superb and robust, held together by two extremely powerful performances by a charismatic Joaquin Phoenix and the beautiful Vanessa Kirby as the dynamic and ruthless power couple who elegantly presided over one of the bloodiest periods of European history at the start of the 19th century.

Visually impressive and beautifully acted, Napoleon deserves recognition at the 2024 Oscars and gets a film rating of 9 out of 10. Utterly astounding and highly recommended viewing but only for those that enjoy grand cinema in the tradition of such Oscar winning films as A Passage to India, The Last Emperor and Amadeus.

Vibrating the Victorians



Tantalizing Indeed!

Hysteria is a hilarious romantic comedy set in Victorian London in 1880 about a struggling and well-meaning young Doctor, Dr Mortimer Granville played by the ever dashing Hugh Dancy (Evening)who joins up with a prominent Doctor whose medical practice’s sole aim is to treat bored suburban Victorian housewives of the so-called elusive feminine condition of Hysteria. Dr Granville whose under the patronage of wealthy entrepreneur Lord Edmund St John-Smythe, beautifully down played against type by Rupert Everett (Another Country, An Ideal Husband) and is fascinated by all modern electrical inventions which were increasingly surfacing in Victorian London at the ripening of the Industrial Revolution.

Dr Granville is taken in with board and lodging by an unorthodox Dr Dalrymple who is a widower with two very different daughters, the plain and simple Emily played by Felicity Jones and the hugely volatile and passionate Charlotte wonderfully played by the very talented Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight, Crazy Heart).

Hysteria works because of the fantastic on screen chemistry between Dancy and Gyllenhaal and is helped by a superbly witty script which highlights not only the bizarre inventions of late 19th Century England but also the more serious plight of women during the Industrial Revolution. Charlotte Dalrymple is a headstrong nurse and teacher who assist at a community school and shelter in the poorer East End of London, much to her pompous father’s disgust.

Charlotte is deeply involved in the ever growing suffragette movement which aimed to eventually give women in Victorian England the right to vote in a unusually patriarchal society ironically ruled by the steadfast Queen Victoria which left women suppressed by controlling men and often viewed as commodities to be traded in a marriage contract reflected in Dr Robert Dalrymple’s view of his daughters, played with an underlining misogyny by the hugely talented British actor Jonathan Pryce (Carrington, Tomorrow Never Dies).

Hysteria in women, whilst manifesting in a variety of symptoms is according to these Victorian doctors basically caused by a lack of sex. Comic moments abound as while the dashing Dr Granville is relieved to give women a helping hand, he eventually turns to his outrageous patron Lord St John-Smythe and between the two of them they perfect the world’s first mechanical vibrator minus the feathers.

Whilst the subject matter might be provocative, Hysteria manages to be an engaging and often hilarious comedy from a uniquely feminine perspective. The onscreen chemistry is fantastic, the cast top notch and the fashions to die for. Hysteria is recommended for all those lovers of period drama yet has all the proper doses of comedy and romance without descending into farce. Tanya Wexler directs and while the editing is not top notch, the script and story line is truly enlivening and not to mention based on historical fact. Really!

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December 2023
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