Jeanne du Barry

Jeanne du Barry
Jeanne du Barry
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Jeanne du Barry is a film that speaks through gestures and glances rather than big speeches and actions. It has court intrigue elements found in movies like The Other Boleyn Girl, The Madness of King George or Dangerous Liaisons, but isn’t much interested in showing backroom wheeling and dealing among power players of the monarchy. As the title suggests, it is a biography of Jeanne Bécu, who would become known as Madame du Barry; with most focus given to her years at Versailles as king Louis XV’s chief mistress.

Jeanne du Barry offers stunning visuals from pre-revolutionary France (Versailles), where everything will be changed by Jacobins during French Revolution – led by class consciousness which also fuels this movie; for example, she was ‘illegitimate’ child born to poor seamstress before eventually becoming sex worker during Libertine era of France who then climbs up men’s ladder until she reaches unto King himself thereby scandalizing customs & image of Versailles although still remaining one among favourites loved by him.

Maïwenn – both filmmaker and star – paints subtle portraits about women power relationship(s) with king(s); while silently commenting on power itself vis-à-vis social classes where silence sometimes speaks louder than words used too often!

Needless say that Johnny Depp portrayal as Louis XV has been attracting much attention towards Jeanne du Barry; being his first movie after infamous trial between Amber Heard; no matter what side you take on this issue there is no denying fact that he appears charming yet sad here. It’s hard telling whether it’s all about stunt casting or not because entire film is 100% French made plus Depp speaks good french although limited dialogues may suggest otherwise for those who know better language skills possessed by actor such as him but nevertheless when considering what johnny does through eyes&body while acting then truly becomes mesmerizing scene.

His character seems ecclesiastical as if Louis has grown tired of all these things around him – wealth, gluttony, sex and power; When Jeanne enters Versailles it’s like Louis XV rediscovered purpose again in life.

On her side, Jeanne does what any other female commoner would have done during 18th century – she chose harlotry over peasantry (as stated once). Having used her physical appearance so as to get into lives&houses owned by wealthy males then king himself becomes ultimate achievement this regard. She loves him but in human terms which break every single small-minded rule at court (how low should a woman curtsy before King? How should one back away from him? Etcetera).

Here there’s palpable chemistry between Depp/Maïwenn where by following their relationship dynamics we witness fascinating exploration about desire/class/delight/power — everything that shakes foundations of monarchy with louis’ family being none too happy about it either; maïwenn paints louis’ daughters among other powerful figures around versailles almost like caricatured villains while portraying louis xvi only as heroically flat character having said so not forgetting also those scenes depicting same situation thrice or even more times over: louis’ daughters humiliate jeanne; louis’ grandson stands up for her.

In the film, Maïwenn frequently shines. She uses her stunning locks and wide smile to great effect. It’s delightful how she laughs and brushes aside all the pomp and circumstance that surrounds her. But Jeanne is a hero; Louis XV is a hero — they are heroes in love, passionate believers in passion who do not have a single thought that is not about their beloved or inspired by them. And it seems odd to make heroes of them, given what happened to France under their reigns and what would happen to Versailles after Jeanne was dead and buried (which may offend some historians or socialists). Nevertheless, Jeanne du Barry is a historical romance movie and not an academic history lecture series.

But as someone who knows nothing much about French history between 1750-1792 except what I’ve seen on “Outlander,” let me tell you: MaÏwenn can direct some objectively stunning stuff set in mid-to-late 18th century France! Her eye for detail creates these beautiful tableaus so rich with life they might have been ripped straight from Jacques-Louis David’s sketchbook.

Maïwenn loves playing with the light and shadows in sensuous ways we don’t see often enough anymore; her long shots of great big houses full of rooms are regal and impressive (Stephen Warbeck’s score feels like it should be tenderly majestic but mostly I’m just waiting for any song from Shakespeare In Love because I’m pretty sure this composer only has one tune).

But here’s what interests me most about “Jeanne du Barry”: How subtly it explores our expendability as people or positions, desire’s transitory nature versus power’s. Like when they say, “The King is dead! Long live the King!” One King dies, another takes his place. One mistress falls out of favor… etcetera. These things get exacerbated during revolutions like The French Revolution, if I understand.

For instance, “Jeanne du Barry” introduces us to Zamor, the page-boy who was once a slave. In the movie, Jeanne sees herself as his mother and he looks up to her as such. In reality, he helped put her in prison — then got imprisoned himself because she used to be his boss or something (they mention this very vaguely near end). Or: He did help imprison her… but only after she’d been executed by those who were mad at him for having been associated with someone like her in any way. At one moment power reigns; at another it is subjugated. The King is dead, long live the King. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss (“The Who,” 1971).

Sad beauty of Jeanne DuBarry: We watch love between her & Louis XV burn bright & fast before being replaced by Louis XVI & Marie Antoinette’s doomed tale which ends in French Revolution; see Jeanne as beautiful young woman then graying melancholic old one. See king in power — dying from smallpox! If anything though it captures just one brief period in life of King — should be called “Jeanne Du Barry Chronicles” or something like that cause damn if ain’t about everything that’s real

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