xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
When I saw "Queen Margot" for the first time in May 1994 at the Cannes Film Festival, it was like looking at the home movies of complete strangers - in this case, the French. All of the many, many characters on the screen were apparently intimately familiar to those around me, but I was at sea. Eventually a few familiar faces came swimming toward me from out of long-ago history classes: Catherine de Medici, for example. But the film didn't seem much concerned with explaining people and relationships, and devoted its energies instead to an almost unwatchable visual style, made up of endless closeups and a restlessly roving camera.
The film was however a big budget, prestigious French production, widely predicted to win a best actress award for Isabelle Adjani, who does an astonishing job of portraying the sexually insatiable Margot at many ages and stages of dress. When the jury perversely gave the award instead to Virna Lisi, for her work as Margot's mother, Catherine, it came almost as an insult: The star was passed over for the supporting actor. And now that the film has opened in New York, the ads mention its Special Jury Prize but pointedly do not mention the award for Lisi.
It was clear at Cannes that "Queen Margot" was going to be slow sailing for a North American audience, and Miramax has done what it could to make the experience easier. The movie has been trimmed to a still more than adequate 143 minutes, and begins with several screens of historical background - so wordy that some audiences may be intimidated even before the first shot.
Then we plunge into the cauldron itself. The director, Patrice Chereau, sure that his French audience knows his characters as well, say, as Americans might know the headliners at Woodstock, wants to convey the atmosphere at a court where marriage was a political weapon, Catholic and Protestant were at each other's necks, and the most useful attendant was the Royal Poisoner.