The Affair of the Necklace

"OK"

The Affair of the Necklace Review


There are inherent risks in making a costume drama -- giving everything too much weight, and not getting the mood just right. The opportunity for grandiose accents, overly lavish wardrobe, and stagy, oh-so-clever performances are there for the suffering, and many such films deliver snickers rather than oohs and aahs (I still believe Elizabeth to be one of those). The Affair of the Necklace falls right into that category as well, dealing with the French aristocracy with a heavy hand and far too much giggling.

Perhaps the problem is director Charles Shyer, a guy known for his comedic streak, both as the man behind the Father of the Bride movies, and as a writer working with wife Nancy Meyers (The Parent Trap, Baby Boom). With Shyer's swing over to drama, it's tough to tell if parts of The Affair of the Necklace are supposed to be funny.

Indeed, there are times when this circuitous tale of a woman's fight to retain her family name and home are almost a farce. Hilary Swank, as damsel-in-distress Jeanne de la Motte Valois, holds up her end, usually striking the appropriate tone at the right time. But supporting players Jonathan Pryce as the lecherous Cardinal of France, and Christopher Walken as an ominous, flaky clairvoyant drew laughs from the audience, and rightfully so. Pryce's come-hither looks and raised eyebrows are a hoot, and Walken's ridiculous line delivery is overdramatic enough to cause chuckles every time. (But he's still cool -- hell, he's Walken).

Are we supposed to laugh? Perhaps yes, but sometimes, no, I think. The usually excellent Brian Cox (L.I.E.) delivers the voiceover narration, describing Jeanne's grand plan to intercept an enormously valuable necklace, ingratiate herself into the upper crust of France, and be able to buy back her family estate. His timbre is stern and believable, but first-time scripter John Sweet gives him some fairly heavy dialogue at times. His telling of the story seems to give so much gravity to Jeanne's plight, and its subsequent results (it's said to be based in fact) as to make us sneer, or even worse, feel apathetic.

There are some sharp performances in The Affair of the Necklace, most notably Joely Richardson as the playful Marie Antoinette. She appears to have such fun with the Queen's upturned nose and dramatic downfall that I'd rather see a complete movie about her, with Richardson in the role. At least her performance is presented clearly enough to know when to take her seriously, and when to enjoy a good laugh.

Ultimately, the film appears to want it both ways -- subtle laughs and dramatic flourishes -- and it just doesn't meld, especially when various cast members handle it differently. Shyer could have tightened the actors' creative reins a bit, along with the meandering story, but alas, we instead get an all-too-much Affair to forget.

The DVD is even more cryptic -- maybe the only costume drama in history to have a gag reel attached. French historians will enjoy the extra nuance of the deleted scenes and feature commentary, but casual viewers will probably find the extras as tedious as the film itself.

Watch the hands, buster.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 118 mins

In Theaters: Friday 30th November 2001

Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures

Production compaines: Alcon Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 15%
Fresh: 9 Rotten: 52

IMDB: 6.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Jeanne St. Remy de Valois, as Rétaux de Vilette, as Count Cagliostro, as Young Jeanne, as Cardinal Louis de Rohan, as Count Nicolas De La Motte, as Minister Breteuil, as Marie-Antoinette, Simon Shackleton as Louis XVI

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

La La Land Movie Review

La La Land Movie Review

After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Hopes were high that this film might finally crack the curse of movies based on...

Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like...

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A difficult movie to market, this isn't actually the BFG-style fantasy adventure it looks like....

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly...

Advertisement
Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Dramas exploring the nature of death and the true meaning of life are always in...

Paterson Movie Review

Paterson Movie Review

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into...

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

At 80 years old, British filmmaker Ken Loach won his second Cannes Film Festival with...

Why Him? Movie Review

Why Him? Movie Review

Writer-director John Hamburg continues to recycle the formula that made his first hit Meet the...

Passengers Movie Review

Passengers Movie Review

Anchored by the almost ridiculously engaging Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, this sci-fi movie travels...

Neruda Movie Review

Neruda Movie Review

Clever Chilean director Pablo Larrain (who also directed Natalie Portman's Jackie) takes on the Nobel-winning...

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

Narrated by Daisy Ridley (The Force Awakens), this documentary is one of the most gripping...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.