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MARQUISE

SYNOPSIS:
Born into poverty, Marquise (Sophie Marceau) is a promiscuous young woman who uses her exquisite beauty and seductive dancing to earn a living. When the distinguished Molière (Bernard Giraudeau) and his theatre troupe come to town, Marquise mesmerises the men, especially the lead actor, nicknamed Gros René, (Patrick Timsit), who falls in love with her and asks for her hand in marriage. She agrees on condition that she joins the group to become an actress. Gros René is deeply in love with his wife, and even accepts her on-going infidelities, until she meets Jean Racine (Lambert Wilson), while they are performing for King Louis XIV and his court. Although flirtatious in manner, Marquise carries honour and integrity in her heart. Following Racine’s coaching, Marquise’s acting talents improve dramatically, and she is at last able to perform the leading dramatic role in his play Andromaque.

"With rich, sumptuous sets and a witty, intelligent script, Marquise is a colourful period piece that captures the lusty spirit of the 17th century with its fire, frivolity and passion. Sophie Marceau is dazzling as the alluring Marquise: she captivates at every turn with her coquettish style and delicate beauty. Disarmingly casual about her morals, yet virtuous in spirit, Marquise is the very epitome of the femme fatale: a goddess of feminine wiles, a bewitching enchantress. Patrick Timsit is poignant as Gros René, her loyal and faithful husband. He is the theatre troope’s buffoon - the true sad clown; Lambert Wilson is enigmatic as Racine; Lhermitte is delightfully engaging as the Sun King. The entire cast is top notch, the production design excellent and the cinematography beguiling. Those who enjoyed Patrick LeConte’s Ridicule will also enjoy Marquise, with heavily stringed music score from Jordi Savall setting the mood. There are some wonderful aerial shots of the exquisite Marquise dancing in the pouring rain, her vivacity and lust for life evident. Also memorable is the intriguing shot of naked female ‘derrières’ poised for action in a dingy latrine. There is much that lingers in this exquisite work. Sharon Stone’s famous leg-crossing scene in Basic Instinct pales into insignificance next to Marquise’s on-stage cartwheel: she dresses in such haste as to have omitted to don her bloomers! The clowns and buffoons appear more in the King’s Court, than on the stage, while ‘the best scenes are often played in the wings’. Vera Belmont invests passion and energy in this entertaining romp which delicately balances comedy and tragedy on the fickle seesaw of life."
Louise Keller

"Only the French can make a film like a this and do so with an air of timelessness. Lavish, sexy, funny, poignant, Marquise is a masterful entertainment on a grand scale, an intelligent and fascinating insight into 17th century French society, a period of aristocratic excesses, coupled with the development of French theatre. This was indeed the era of Moliere and Racine, a time when the monarchy was at its peak; the French Revolution was a century away. Marquise details some remarkable characters, not the least of which was the luminous Marquise. From street urchin to prostitute to courtesan to tragedian, this femme fatale of contradictions is the stuff of passionate drama, and she's lovingly created in this exemplary film. Sophie Marceau is tailor made for this woman, who leaves her poverty-stricken world behind her for a short life in the Parisian theatre. Marceau is a magical vision on screen, creating a haunting and hypnotic character, conveying her complexities with pure skill and intellect. Visually, Marquise is a breathtaking, beautifully shot and costumed. While many period films tend to present an old fashioned view of history, Marquise is a rollicking joyous work, a film which is set in the past but has a sharp, contemporary vision. And like the best of theatre, it deals with the tragic and the comic in a deft and beautifully executed manner. In all, Marquise is an exuberant, sexy and rollicking entertainment."
Paul Fischer



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0
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MARQUISE (M)
(French, Italian, Swiss, Spanish)

CAST: Sophie Marceau, Bernard Giraudeau, Lambert Wilson, Patrick Timsit, Thierry Lhermitte, Anemone, Remo Girone, Georges Wilson

DIRECTOR: Vera Belmont

PRODUCER: Vera Belmont

SCRIPT: Jean-Francois Josseln, Vera Belmont, Marcel Beaulieu, Gerard Mordillat

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jean-Marie Dreujou

EDITOR: Martine Giordano

MUSIC: Jordi Savall

SET DESIGN: Stefano Paltrinieri

RUNNING TIME: 122 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: New Vision

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 30, 1998 - Melbourne; Sydney: Sept 3

VIDEO RELEASE: Sept 15, 1999

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: 21st Century







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