Saturday, January 17, 2009

Film Review: THE TAKING OF POWER BY LOUIS XIV (1966, Roberto Rossellini)

Stars: 2 of 5.
Running Time: 93 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Jean-Marie Patte, Raymond Jourdan, Katharina Renn, Dominique Vincent.
Tag-lines: None.
Best one-liner(s): "Music, please, my brother!"

This film isn't really BAD, per sé, for a TV movie, but maybe they should have titled it THE TAKING OF QUAALUDES BY LOUIS XIV. Yeah, not a whole lot of energy there. Louis himself really pisses me off here. I don't know if it's his squashed, chubby face, or the fact that he's READING EVERY LINE OFF OF CUE CARDS, but I'm gonna go ahead and say it: he sucks. I mean, Rossellini's not exactly my favorite director of all time, but if I was cast as the lead and TITLE CHARACTER in a Rossellini film, I'm pretty sure I would take the fucking time to learn my lines.

That's the insufferable little cue-card-reading snot on the left.

The pacing's a little off, too: Mazarin takes like a half hour to kick off (yep, time to smell his bedpan again) and we don't even get the fancy period costumes till well over an hour in. And even then, the costumes still smack a little of community theater.

Louis gets a little less annoying when he gets his 'stache, but then most of the screentime is wasted on the notorious marathon eating scene.

Let's go back in time. Back to when the gods of Italian cinema were meting out various filmic talents. They messed up. They accidentally gave ALL the restraint and subtlety, intended for entire generations of filmmakers, to just a couple guys, like de Sica and Rossellini. The others had to compensate for lack of self-control, and it wasn't even their fault. If Lucio Fulci had directed this, Mazarin would have died by ever, ever so slowly having his eye impaled by a sharp object. If Mario Bava had directed this, Louis XIV would have rolled around in bed naked with a pile of money and a bodacious German babe, and his court's fashions would have changed to black and yellow leather outfits with spandex accents and insanely popped collars. But Roberto Rossellini directed it. Which means he probably did his research and everything depicted on screen is gonna be pretty accurate.

Hey, if Rossellini put it in the movie it must be historically accurate.

It might even make a great background movie for some history professors having an 'Age of Enlightenment party.' But it kinda fails as entertainment... of any kind. Two stars.

-Sean Gill

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

Totally agree! I just rented this and was expecting something...anything better than this! I love history, especially this time period, so when a movie is historically accurate, I'm thrilled. But this? First of all, Louis was supposed to be good looking and charismatic...could Rossellini not have found a better actor to portray the sun king? And what about his mistresses? Not enough time spent on them and they were all central figures in Louis' life. Waste of time!