Vatel Movie Review
Vatel is the central character in a critical weekend in French history (way back in 1671). Played by Gérard Depardieu, Vatel is the chief steward at the mansion of the Prince de Condé, a now penniless French nobleman whose last-ditch effort is to invite King Louis XIV to his estate for the weekend, through a rager of a party, and win the king's favor in order to get the post as general in the upcoming war against the Dutch.
Vatel indeed goes all-out, with decadence befitting a dozen kings -- fireworks, feasts, music, and more. The only obstacle in the event turns out to be Vatel himself.: He's fallen in love with a member of the court (Uma Thurman), who is not only being chased by a Marquis (Tim Roth), but is the subject of the king's eye as well. Vatel's job duties and his station inevitably get in the way, creating a quite compelling drama.
The story lacks complexity, but Depardieu's performance is persuasive and of course the costumes and sets are incredible. Unfortunately, there are too many anachronisms in the film -- did they have iridescent ribbon in 1671? -- and director Roland Joffé explains that he's not overly interested in historical accuracy in the 3-minute documentary included on the DVD, the disc's sole extra.
Both of which are unfortunate.
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