The filmmaker provides intellectual rigor to spare, yet precious little narrative focus (you virtually wander into plot strands) and there's a stiffness to the proceedings that neither Wilson's charisma nor Ulliel and Thierry's screen-ready beauty can remedy.
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The cast and crew render every detail so exquisitely that there's almost too much to take in at once. Repeat viewings will be required.
Using de Chabannes as the film's conscience and moral fulcrum, Tavernier - just as he did in his 1996 film "Captain Conan" - exposes the shame of a meaningless war and the psychological damage borne by those fighting it.
One of the finest costume dramas in a long while.
The French director Bertrand Tavernier deploys some smart ideas in this film, a period story about wars on the battlefield and those closer to home, but there's something a bit goatish in his attention to some female charms.
The finest Western you'll see this year is set in aristocratic 16th-century France, in the heat of Counter-Reformation.
Tavernier turns a tale of courtly duty and manners into a tense, twisty drama.
Courtly intrigue should be intriguing, and in that sense, The Princess of Montpensier – although it's somewhat wan and too cerebral for its own good – does a fairly keen job.
The script does not provide that much illumination, yet the power of the acting and the quality of the visual imagery carry us along.
Viewers unfamiliar with the politics of the era might feel lost as the plot unfolds, and the 139-minute running time might be a bit much. But why quibble?