Kings and Queen (France; 150 min.)


directed by: Arnaud Desplechin
starring: Emmanuelle Devos; Mathieu Amalric; Maurice Garrel
Rois et Reine
 

Bruce says: "Nora (Emmanuelle Devos), who manages an upscale art gallery, is the queen in question and the kings are the men in her life: her father, her son, her son’s father, her husband and her wealthy fiancée who dotes on her. She tells us that one of them she never loved; which we aren’t quite sure. Certainly she loves her son, her father and her former husband. Or does she have the capacity to really love at all? By the end of the film we learn that she has killed two of them. In this overly long tragicomedy, bit by bit the pieces fall together.

"Nora’s father (Maurice Garrel) is dying. She finds this out when she goes to his village to pick up her son from summer camp. She stays and tries to make her father comfortable in his last days. She contacts her sister Chloe who is more interested in why her father hasn’t set money than she is in his health problems.

"At night, Nora is visited in her dreams by the ghost of Elias’ father. Meanwhile her husband (Mathieu Amalric) is admitted to a mental institution and we follow his path as well as Nora’s. He becomes involved with Arielle, a suicide patient. Flashbacks to Nora’s pregnancy, her failed marriage and her son’s bonding with her husband help us understand what is going on. Nora mysteriously has the same hairstyle, same make-up, same behavior and style of dressing ten years earlier. The flashbacks are not believable.

"This detailed story is laced with pathetic attempts at humor eliciting an occasional laugh when certainly a more raucous response was intended. After Nora’s father dies, she finds a letter he has written to her. He rails 'Your egoism has been monstrous. It is my fault. You were the prettiest. Now I feel a rage towards you. Pride makes you weak.' If