Now showing at Curzon Knutsford Civic Centre, Toft Road,Knutsford,Cheshire WA16 0PE 01565 633005
- A Little Chaos
- Woman In Gold
A Little Chaos 3 stars
King Louis XIV hires renowned landscape gardener Andre Le Notre to transform the grounds of Versailles into a fantasia "of exquisite and matchless beauty". It is a Herculean task, so Le Notre hires fellow landscapers to oversee different sections of the garden. Sabine De Barra catches his eye. She flouts rigid form and prefers a more haphazard approach to her planting. The arrival of Sabine in the court sets tongues wagging and incurs the wrath of Andre's jealous wife, Madame Le Notre.
- GenreComedy, Drama, Historical/Period, Romance
- CastAlan Rickman, Kate Winslet, Stanley Tucci, Helen McCrory, Matthias Schoenaerts, Jennifer Ehle.
- DirectorAlan Rickman.
- WriterAlison Deegan, Alan Rickman, Jeremy Brock.
- Duration117 mins
- Official site
Sexual tension and skulduggery blossom in the magnificent gardens of the Palace of Versailles in Alan Rickman's entertaining second directorial feature. A Little Chaos is considerably more formal and predictable than the title suggests, but what this lusty period romp lacks in originality, it compensates with colourful performances and an uplifting bouquet of courtly intrigues.
Rickman sows the seeds of our simple enjoyment with a largely British cast led by Oscar-winner Kate Winslet as a spirited landscape gardener, who refuses to kowtow to expectations or gender stereotypes.
She is nestled between handsome Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts as her green-fingered love interest and Stanley Tucci in a typically scene-stealing comic role as the effete Duc d'Orleans, who is a stranger to restrained sophistication and "speaks from the opposite end of the fashion scale".
Some of Britain's finest stately homes, estates and mansions including Blenheim Palace, Cliveden, Hampton Court Palace and Waddesdon Manor double handsomely for late 17th-century France. Rickman's garden is exceedingly well turned out.
The director makes his mark in front of the camera as King Louis XIV, who has hired renowned landscape gardener Andre Le Notre (Schoenaerts) to transform the grounds of Versailles into a fantasia "of exquisite and matchless beauty".
It is a Herculean task, so Le Notre hires fellow landscapers to oversee different sections of the garden. Sabine De Barra (Winslet) catches his eye. She flouts rigid form and prefers a more haphazard approach to her planting.
The arrival of Sabine in the court sets tongues wagging - "You are no one where everybody is someone," a chaperone tells her - and incurs the wrath of Andre's jealous wife, Madame Le Notre (Helen McCrory).
Fellow labourers including Moulin (Danny Webb) rush to support Sabine in her epic undertaking and the gardener wins the approval of the king's mistress Madame De Montespan (Jennifer Ehle) by challenging the monarch's description of women in his court as faded and overblown roses. "That fate awaits all roses, sire," Sabine responds confidently.
A Little Chaos has the requisite array of heaving bosoms, lingering glances and deceptions, accentuated by swathes of eye-catching costumes and composer Peter Gregson's lively score.
Winslet isn't stretched in the lead role but she brings grit and determination to her trendsetter. On-screen sexual tension with Schoenaerts barely simmers, while McCrory vamps it up to the hilt as the wicked wench who envies Sabine's ability to impress powerful men with her intellect.
Rickman downplays his beleaguered monarch and enjoys one truly delightful scene with Winslet, in which he casts off the king's finery to mourn lost love. The resolution of the entangled plots will surprise no one, but A Little Chaos is a hardy perennial that will weather most criticism and delivers gentle sprays of laughter and romance when it counts.
Woman In Gold 3 stars
Shortly before the Second World War, Nazis confiscate numerous artworks including Gustav Klimt's iconic portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, known as Woman In Gold. Following his death, Adele's niece Maria Altmann launches a protracted and bitter legal battle against the Austrian government to reclaim the painting, flanked by idealistic young lawyer Randol Schoenberg. Together, they take the grievance to the Supreme Court of the United States.
- GenreBiography, Drama, Film, Historical/Period
- CastHelen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Bruhl, Dame Helen Mirren, Katie Holmes, Max Irons.
- DirectorSimon Curtis.
- WriterAlexi Kaye Campbell.
- Duration109 mins
- Official sitewww.facebook.com/WomanInGoldMovie
During the Second World War, the Third Reich plundered countless artworks and possessions, some of which were traced back to their rightful owners by the Monuments Men. Today, more than 100,000 precious items are still separated from families.
Some may never be seen again. Woman In Gold is the inspirational true story of one Los Angeles resident, who challenged the legal status quo to reclaim a painting from her native Austria in the face of staunch resistance from bureaucrats in Vienna.
Director Simon Curtis and screenwriter Alexi Kaye Campbell distill this protracted war of words into a solid drama that juxtaposes harrowing events in late 1930s Europe with legal wranglings six decades later on both sides of the Atlantic.
At the turn of the 20th century, industrialist Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer (Henry Goodman) commissions artist Gustav Klimt to paint his wife Adele (Antje Traue), who dies a few years later. The glittering canvas hangs in the family apartment in Vienna until Nazis invade and seize works of art as well as precious trinkets.
Ferdinand leaves the country before the border shutdown, but his brother Gustav (Allan Corduner), his wife Therese (Nina Kunzendorf), their daughter Maria (Tatiana Maslany) and her opera singer husband Fritz (Max Irons) are not so fortunate. Maria and Fritz orchestrate a daring escape, leaving behind loved ones to a grim fate, while the iconic painting hangs in the Belvedere Gallery in the Austrian capital.
In 1998, Maria (now played by Helen Mirren) attempts to reclaim the canvas, aided by idealistic lawyer Randol Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds). "Can't you help me out on the side, like a little hobby?" she pleads. Inspired by Maria's resolve, Randol risks his job at a top California law firm to pursue the case, which everyone, including senior partner Sherman (Charles Dance), tells him is unwinnable.
Austrian investigative reporter Hubertus Czernin (Daniel Bruhl) pledges support but warns Maria and Randol to expect defeat. "She is the Mona Lisa of Austria," explains the reporter. "Do you think they will just let her go?
Woman In Gold deftly moves back and forth between the two timelines to establish Maria's tragic past and her claim on the painting. Mirren teases out the steeliness of her survivor, who gets caught up in the excitement of the case and jokes to Randol, "This is like James Bond film, and you are Sean Connery".
She pickpockets the lion's share of the one-liners while Reynolds has the more difficult task of adding emotional heft to his inexperienced underdog. Screenwriter Campbell simplifies legal arguments so they are easily digestible, while director Curtis maintains a steady pace apart from Maria and Randol's pulse-quickening escape bid that seems destined to end in tragedy. Not for the last time, Maria defies the odds.