A Little Chaos

Alan Rickman’s sophomore directing project doesn’t come together quite as I had hoped. A Little Chaos does have some seriously stunning ingredients, including, but not limited to, the costumes, cinematography, makeup, and set design. Besides the look of the film, it was Peter Gregson’s original score that left me most satisfied. So often, a score isn’t given due credit, and here is a case where the score outperforms even the acting and storytelling. Kate Winslet returns to the era of Sense & Sensibility, and her performance is quite good, as is the pairing with internationally acclaimed actor Matthias Schoenaerts (Far From the Madding Crowd). Rickman (Harry Potter), who also stars in the film as King Louis XIV, can’t seem to get things tight enough to drum up emotion or drama.

A little Chaos

It’s 1682, and King Louis XIV (Rickman), in all his glory, announces to his kingdom Versailles will have the most impressive garden in the country. He hires world-famous gardener André Le Notre (Schoenaerts) to fulfill his dream. Years into the project, Andre interviews the best landscape artists in the country to help with the outdoor ballroom. Widow Sabine De Barra (Winslet) has the structural chaos in her plan he seeks. The moment Andre watches Sabine move one of his plants, he falls for this woman who follows her own path in light of a troubling past. Even the king becomes infatuated by this stunning woman, doing man’s work in his garden.

If you stick with the film, it develops much like the four seasons rose Sabine presents to Louis.

While the film lacks structural clarity within its screenplay, far too many subplots and delayed character development won’t provide certain viewers a reason to keep watching. If you stick with the film, it develops much like the Four Seasons Rose Sabine presents to Louis. You are likely to feel the same emotion he does when she poetically explains the fateful beauty of the flower. As the film centers around the garden project, the closer it completes, the closer Sabine and Andre get to passion. Rickman embraces the notion of love in all its forms throughout the many supporting characters. Effortlessly, the story supports the openness of French relationships and the complications they cause.

Repeat viewings won’t be necessary to unearth difficult passages or hidden meanings. However, A Little Chaos functions like smelling coffee beans to clear the cinematic pallet of mainstream bombardment. It’s the perfect film (or soundtrack) to play in the background on an open-window spring day. Rickman has created a delightful film that doesn’t appeal to usual cinematic standards but does offer a sensory experience outside of a strong narrative.

Final Thought

May not stimulate your brain but provides a feast for the eyes and ears.


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