A Liberated Women
Véra Belmont’s “Marquise” is a lavish costume dramedy set in 17th century France. It has been remastered and is now presented in a new 2K digital restoration, Film Movement Classics on Blu Ray. Marquise (Sophie Marceau) is a beautiful street dancer who was both famous and notorious with seventeenth century aristocratic elite under the stage name Mademoiselle Du Parc. When the playwright Molière (Bernard Giraudeau) and his theatre troupe come to town, Marquise mesmerizes the men, and joins the troupe. She marries Gros René (Patrick Timsit) and becomes a favorite of King Louis XIV, but it is not until Marquise becomes the mistress of rival playwright Racine that she finally realizes her ambition to become a great actress.
As Marquise, Sophie Marceau dazzles and captivates. She is both a coquette and a delicate beauty. She is not the only one; the entire cast is excellent. Marquise was born into poverty and is a promiscuous young woman who uses her beauty and dancing to earn a living. She mesmerizes men and especially Moliere’s lead actor, nicknamed Gros René, (Patrick Timsit), who falls in love with her and asks for her hand in marriage. She agrees to marry him on the condition that she join the group to become an actress. Gros René is deeply in love with her and even accepts her on-going infidelities, until she meets Jean Racine (Lambert Wilson) while his company is performing for King Louis XIV and his court. Even though she is flirtatious in manner, Marquise has honor and integrity in her heart. Following Racine’s coaching, Marquise’s acting talents improve dramatically, and she is at last able to perform as the leading dramatic role in his play Andromaque.
The screenplay is witty and intelligent and the sets are gorgeous. The film catches the sprit of the 17th century with all of its lustiness, passion and frivolity. Marquise is casual morally but virtuous in spirit. She is a femme fatale and an enchantress. Patrick Timsit is excellent as Gros René, Marquise’s loyal and faithful husband. He is a true sad clown and Lambert Wilson is enigmatic as Racine. The entire cast is top notch, the production design excellent and the cinematography beguiling. The cinematography is excellent and fun, especially the intriguing shot of naked female ‘derrières’ poised for action in a dingy latrine. Vera Belmont invests passion and energy in this fun film which delicately balances comedy and tragedy.
“Marquise is a masterful entertainment on a grand scale, an intelligent and fascinating insight into 17th century French society, a period of aristocratic excesses, coupled with the development of French theatre.” It was the era of Moliere and Racine, a time when the monarchy was at its peak; the French Revolution was a hundred years away.
BONUS FEATURES include an interview with director Véra Belmont and a new essay by author and professor Laurence Marie