Queen Margot

Death seems to linger in every inch of the frame, yet the film lives and breathes like few others.


Queen Margot

This is a new restoration of Patrice Chéreau’s lavish historical drama QUEEN MARGOT (1994) starring Isabelle Adjani in the title role.

France, 1572, and during an uneasy break in the wars of religion, Jean-Hugues Anglade’s King Charles IX concludes a marriage of state between his sister, Isabelle Adjani’s Catholic Margot, and Daniel Auteuil’s Huguenot King Henry of Navarre, by ramming forward a reluctant Adjani’s head in lieu of a ‘Oui’. But Virna Lisi’s skull-faced Queen Mother/Regent is already plotting the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, and that’s just the beginning of the head-snapping side switches, non-stop scheming, sometimes accidental poisoning, double beheadings, and frenzied couplings, including Adjani’s throbbingly romantic affair with Vincent Perez’s La Môle.

The late Patrice Chéreau’s high octane adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas novel begins in fifth gear and never lets up, plunging in hip deep in history and into a dizzying array of characters, with passionate performances and a riveting, horrific staging of the Massacre. Winner of the Best Actress (Virna Lisi) Jury Prize, at the 1994 Cannes Festival, MARGOT was originally released in the U.S. in a truncated version – this is the complete 159- minute director’s cut.

“A fast-moving and savagely ironic yarn... It’s also visceral, with a high gore factor, a pervasive whiff of filth, and a compelling percussive score. The performances are top-notch, while the dark, rich photography is painterly but never lifeless.” – Geoff Andrew, Time Out (London)

“There are moments in Queen Margot that are horrifying as any I have ever seen on film... In a plot dense with historical characters, Chéreau does something fresh: he dives in with momentum going going going so that you can feel the fury that fuels this insane holy war, letting individual heroes and villains emerge out of the muck, then sink back into their larger hell again... But within his dark canvas, Chéreau also beams points of light: In an alley littered with bleeding men, he creates a bold, arousing scene . . . between a prowling Margot and La Môle, the Huguenot who becomes her lover. Chéreau contrasts the cool, mysterious, velvety beauty of Adjani with the beaky, contained style of Auteuil, and again with the sensual energy of Perez. There are nightmare scenes here, and you can’t take your eyes off them.” – Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

“Adjani’s unhinged intensity amplifies the delirium that surrounds her — the villainous actions of her scheming mother, the incestuous lust of her brothers, the endless death and rot. Chéreau magnificently orchestrates the chaos while glutting our senses.” – Melissa Anderson, Village Voice
Not Rated
Bio-pic, Drama, History, Anniversary Classics, French Cinema
French, Italian
Patrice Chéreau
Isabelle Adjani, Daniel Auteuil, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Vincent Perez, Virna Lisi
Aaron Cutler, Village Voice

The French film, opera, and theater director Patrice Chéreau, who died in this past October at age 68, once told an interviewer that he saw human relations as being like rugby or football, in which "everybody is intertwined, and trying to kick everyone else." Chéreau perceived love strategically, in ...

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