Vatel Movie Review

If you've ever heard of Vatel, it's probably only because you remember it was nominated for a Best Art Direction Oscar in 2000. And indeed, this is a lovely film to watch, even on the small screen. What I hadn't counted on was that Vatel would contain a good story with very capable acting, genuinely intriguing -- and based on a historical event, to boot.

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.


Vatel Rating

" Good "

Rating: PG-13, 2000


More Gerard Depardieu

FIFA Movie 'United Passions' Bombs at the Box-Office

FIFA, world football's governing body is no stranger to controversy and ridicule, but even by Sepp Blatter's standards, this is ridiculous. You may not be...

5 Shocking Revelations From Gerard Depardieu's Autobiography

We were shocked when Gerard Depardieu claimed he could drink more than 12 bottles of wine a day but nothing prepared us for what the...

Welcome to New York Movie Review

Both this film and its central character are so unapologetic that it's difficult to get either out of your head long after the final credits...

Gerard Depardieu Ramps Up The Sleaze In 'Welcome To New York' Trailer

Enjoyed The Wolf of Wall Street but wished it caused more controversy? Try Welcome To New York, another movie inspired by Dominique Strauss-Kahn's real life...


Welcome To New York Trailer

Devereaux is well known by the people closest to him as an uninhibited playboy, using his wealth and his high status as a rich French...

Gerard Depardieu Elects Drinking in Skye Over The Edinburgh Film Festival

Gerard Depardieu has managed to annoy the Edinburgh Fringe Festival organisers by his absence. The controversial French actor, who has form for this kind of...

Cannes: Dominique Strauss-Kahn "Disgusted" By Sex Addiction Film He Inspired

Dominique Strauss-Kahn has announced his intention to sue the makers of Welcome To New York, the recently-released French language movie inspired by the former IMF...

Gerard Depardieu Banned From Driving For Six Months

The world-famous Asterix star, Gérard Depardieu, has been fined and banned for six months for drink driving by a French court after he was scooting...