The Count of Monte Cristo (1998)

"Very Good"

The Count of Monte Cristo (1998) Review


The often filmed Count of Monte Cristo is a filmmaker's dream come true. The plot is elegant, the characters beautiful. It would take a lot to screw up a film version of the story.

While Kevin Reynolds' (Waterworld) recent adaptation was warmly received by both audiences and critics (myself included), his was a truncated version. It made up for graceless transitions with gorgeously shot action sequences and American melodrama. Reynolds focused on the story's conflict but lost all the subtlety of the inner narrative, the character growth, and the true turning of the worm. While not as breathtakingly visual, Josée Dayan's earlier television production is superior to Reynolds' film because it assumes that the audience is familiar not just with the story but the novel.

Edmond Dantes (in Dayan's film played by Gerard Depardieu) is betrayed and sent off to Chateau d'If, a foreboding island rock, to rot away the rest of his days. There he meets Abbe Faria, a fellow prisoner who seems quite mad. Faria tells Dantes that there is a hidden treasure on the island, wealth beyond imagination. After nearly 20 years in captivity, Dantes escapes, claims the treasure, and returns to Paris a wealthy but mysterious nobleman. And it is here that his pitiless plans for revenge are set into action.

Gerard Depardieu is a legend in French culture. And he embodies the classic Descartian dilemma, he's robust and strangely ape-like, as physical an actor as Brando, but at the same time seemingly imbibed with worldly knowledge, perfect manners and exquisite taste. Less an actor than an icon, Depardieu is not a celebrity like the ones we fashion in Hollywood but a creature more akin to the traditional (and increasingly rare) Renaissance man. He isn't the star of his films so much as their spine. And yet, as Dantes (and numerous other shadow characters), Depardieu seems a bit weary. He's just not that believable as revenge-obsessed. Likewise, Dantes' servant, played by Sergio Rubini, is oddly fantastical.

The other actors in this teleplay are better. Ornella Muti is fascinating to watch and Christopher Thompson as Maximilien Morel is brilliant.

Dayan and writer Didier Decoin try to pack every twist and nuance from the novel in roughly 400 minutes. That may seem like a long time, but the film never really drags. What it gets right isn't the pacing or the plot or the characters, but a reverence to the original text. While Dumas' Count of Monte Cristo is hardly Shakespeare, is it a vital and vibrant work of French fiction that has transcended both culture and time. It's as exciting a read today as it was published. Dayan doesn't disregard this. He and Decoin have made a miniseries that is truly for fans of the novel, not just fans of television dramas or Depardieu's otherworldly nose.

While some fans of Reynolds' adaptation are bound to be snoozing through long portions of this Dayan's film, those with a taste for well conceived drama are more than likely to be entirely enchanted by this production.

Aka Le Comte de Monte Cristo.



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Josée Dayan

Producer: Jean-Pierre Guerin

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

The latest adaptation of Agatha Christie's 83-year-old classic whodunit, this lavish, star-studded film is old-style...

Paddington 2 Movie Review

Paddington 2 Movie Review

The first Paddington movie in 2014 is already such a beloved classic that it's hard...

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

Everyone's back from last year's undemanding adult comedy, plus some starry new cast members, for...

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Filmmaker S. Craig Zahler brought a blast of offbeat creativity to the Western genre two...

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

Fans of the film In the Loop and the TV series Veep will definitely not...

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Set in northern Italy in the summer of 1983, this internationally flavoured drama is a...

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

The most riotously enjoyable Marvel movie yet, this action epic benefits hugely from the decision...

Advertisement
Breathe Movie Review

Breathe Movie Review

While this biopic has the standard sumptuous production values of a British period drama, it's...

The Snowman Movie Review

The Snowman Movie Review

With a cast and crew packed with A-list talent, this film seems like it should...

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

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.