About the virtue of being a libertine....
HomoBonaeVoluntatis | Western Europe | 10/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Thanks to IMDb, I finally found and bought this masterpiece by Bertrand Tavernier(presently only available at amazon.com, involving additional costums duties when entering Europe!). It is one of those movies that give you the impression of travelling through time, providing a glimpse at the age and "Regency" of Louis XV. To a large degree, it is certainly due to Philippe Noiret's splendid performance as the Regent, generally known as the epitome of a libertine, that one cannot stop wondering if the world wouldn't be much better of with an atheist yet gentle and even humanitarian libertinism than with righteous austerity and fear of god. That at least seems to be the lesson to be drawn. Deliciously witty dialogs, great actors and a general impression of authenticity that Tavernier managaged to convey to his work will certainly delight those who were ravished by "Barry Lyndon", "Vatel", "Saint Cyr" or "Ridicule"."
Victims of history
Trevor Willsmer | London, England | 08/19/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Bertrand Tavernier's second film as director, the lavish but almost completely forgotten Que la Fete Commence... aka Let Joy Reign Supreme, is much more unusual than the standard period piece, as you might expect from a film that begins with a priest threatening field mice with excommunication on the cliffs of Breton and constantly manages to marry the absurd with the humane against a vividly realized historical backdrop in a remarkable feat of cinematic juggling. Set during the controversial regency of the much-despised Philippe d'Orleans, who managed to antagonise both the aristocracy with his plans for land and tax reform and the peasants with his failure to improve their increasingly miserable lot, there's poison in its pen, but there's also real humanity too: Tavernier and co-writer Jean Aurenche are as interested in the people as politics, and most are treated as all too recognisably flawed rather than cartoonish stereotypes. The dialogue is at once witty and revealing, both on a historical and human level, conjuring up a wide-reaching portrait of an almost comically dangerous moment in history that takes in all strata of society but with an understanding of human nature constantly running through it that elevates it beyond the usual costume drama where costume and décor overwhelm everything.
As the enlightened libertine whose attempt to rule a corrupt kingdom is at odds with his debauched nature, Philippe Noiret gives one of his very best performances, avoiding the temptation to slip into ham or caricature in favor of a remarkably controlled and quietly affecting portrait of world-weary wisdom and self-awareness. His grief over the death of his favorite daughter is all too believable, his reaction all-too recognizably human as he buries himself in work because "I still can't feel it, so I'm working while I still can." Even Jean Rochefort's Abbé Dubois, who tries to blow up impoverished Breton noble Jean-Pierre Marielle's farcical plot for independence into a major conspiracy to secure a vacant archbishop's post despite being neither a Catholic nor able to remember how to say Mass, somehow avoids becoming a cartoon, their bitterly comic relationship tinged with real sadness. Like Marielle's doomed revolutionary (a near-master class in comic timing), they are as much victims of history as of their own ambitions.
Filmed with real panache and remarkable assurance (including many early examples of the long tracking shots Tavernier is so fond of), it constantly undercuts the picture-book image of the period. The Court of Versailles is so rat-infested that no-one thinks anything of nobles picking up a dead rodent or of police constables walking around with buckets for aristos to piss in, while the streets are filled with royal pressgangs forcing indigents and tramps into marriage before sending them to populate France's colonies in Louisiana and Mississippi that are the backbone of the fragile economy even if most nobles can't tell the difference between America and Africa. Michel Blanc, Christian Clavier, Thierry Lhermitte and Gerard Jugnot turn up in bit parts en route, though intriguingly Michael Powell's scenes hit the cutting room floor.
It's a film with wit and scope and real humanity: if Ridicule is a light lunch, this is a profoundly delightful full magnificent banquet of a movie.
Kino's Region 1 NTSC DVD has an acceptable 1.85:1 widescreen transfer with unsubtitled theatrical trailer and stills gallery as extras."
DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY
wdanthemanw | Geneva, Switzerland | 11/07/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"1975. Written (with Jean Aurenche) and directed by Bertrand Tavernier. Four French Academy awards in 1976. Superb production design for a picture of the Régence of Philippe d'Orléans. Noiret and Rochefort are sublime. One may perhaps regret the overmuch revolutionary mood of certain scenes or dialogs but 1975 was not so far away from 1968 so don't be too harsh with Bertrand Tavernier."