Rumored to be the most expensive film ever shot in France, The Horseman on the Roof is the film adaptation of Jean Giono's popular novel of the same name. Directed by Cyrano de Bergerac's Jean-Paul Rappeneau, this tale of love and tragedy in 1830s France is an exquisite period piece, full of settings and photography as lush as its story line.
This story involves an Italian revolutionary named Angelo (Olivier Martinez), on the run from the law as well as the cholera epidemic that was sweeping Europe at the time. Forced into France to try to find his compatriots, Angelo takes refuge in the home of the mysterious Pauline (Juliette Binoche), and the two begin to grow close.
As the cholera sweeps across France as well, Angelo finds himself hunted by the locals, who fear him as a carrier of the disease. Together with Pauline, the two strike out across the countryside, each in search of their own peace.
The film, full of spectacular action scenes as well as touching or romantic moments between the two principals, is a careful blend of the two genres that works very well. Special kudos to the actors, especially Binoche, who plays her role as the noble woman with a cryptic goal (I won't give it away) superbly. The enormous cast of both speaking parts and extras is handled well, and the scenes are perfectly choreographed.
The Horseman's one flaw is its tendency to fall into what I call French Movie Syndrome, with the characters spending long stretches of time in monologues, reminiscing about characters and places we've never met or never seen. It's here that the viewer tends to doze off in hopes of a swordfight or a fire.
Otherwise, I have few complaints. The Horseman on the Roof should be accessible to the same audience that made Il Postino a success, and can be enjoyed by a wide range of viewers.
(Oh, and watch for a cameo by Gerard Depardieu.)
Aka Le Hussard Sur Le Toit.
That is not Ralph Macchio behind Juliette Binoche.
Run time: 118 mins
In Theaters: Friday 6th October 1995
Box Office Worldwide: $15M
Production compaines: Canal+, Hachette Première, France 2 Cinéma
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 65%
Fresh: 13 Rotten: 7
IMDB: 7.1 / 10
Director: Jean-Paul Rappeneau
Producer: Rene Cleitman
Starring: Juliette Binoche as Pauline de Théus, Olivier Martinez as Angelo Pardi, Pierre Arditi as Monsieur Peyrolle, François Cluzet as Le médecin, Gérard Depardieu as Le commissaire de police de Manosque, Jean Yanne as Le colporteur, Isabelle Carré as La préceptrice, Claudio Amendola as Maggionari, Christiane Cohendy as Mme Peyrolle, Tony Lemiere as Adrien Peyrolle, Carlo Cecchi as Giuseppe, Laura Marinoni as Carla, Paul Freeman as Laurent de Théus, Yolande Moreau as Mme Rigoard, Daniel Russo as Maître Rigoard, Françoise Hubert as Une villageoise, Richard Sammel as Un voyageur, Georges Neri as Le vieux moissonneur, Hervé Pierre as Brigadier Maugin, Hervé Pierre as Un sergent, Antonin Lebas-Joly as Edmond enfant, Jacques Sereys as Le vieux monsieur, Elisabeth Margoni as La femme du fermier, Christophe Odent as Monsieur Barthelemy, Jean-Marie Winling as Alexandre Petit, Michel Bellier as Un fugitif, Yvonne Gamy as La grand-mère, Joëlle Sevilla as Une religieuse
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