A Little Chaos, Alan Rickman’s latest film, may not be historically accurate (a gainfully employed woman in the 17th century??), but Glen Falkenstein still manages to find it a lot of fun.
“It is deeply historically inaccurate and completely implausible, but that is deliberate given Kate plays a woman with a job at the time.”
Director Alan Rickman jokingly introduces his new film A Little Chaos to a sold-out preview in Sydney, in which he also stars as French King Louis XIV.
“Women were merely decorative objects at the time…I like the fact that it’s a period film, but I hope it makes you think about modern parables…[I’m] telling what I hope is a simple human love story.”
Kate Winslet plays Madame De Barra, charged with building part of the King’s grand gardens at Versailles in 1682, sparking interest and jealousy amongst the palace and her male counterparts. The man who employed her, Andre Le Notre (Matthias Schoenaerts) begins to form a bond with her while De Barra has a few highly improbable yet amusing encounters with the King.
A Little Chaos can’t really decide on a storyline, jumping between the recently widowed King, Le Notre and his marriage woes, and De Barra’s efforts to build the garden while managing without her family. The struggle to build the garden takes up much of the first half of the film yet is glossed over in favour of the love story in the second and third acts. Unlike De Barra, Le Notre is thoroughly uncharismatic – De Barra’s relationship and growing recognition with the King and her builders is much more interesting than the contrived romance with her employer. The first of the few scenes shared by Rickman and Winslet was particularly charming and the stand-out from the film, along with their later meeting in Versailles.
Most entertaining are the period settings and haughty aristocrats of A Little Chaos, with Rickman’s trademark disdain serving him well as the King aimlessly wanders his opulent gardens. Stanley Tucci has a few minutes of screen time as the King’s eccentric younger brother in a mercilessly short cameo.
A fun, if poorly-structured period drama/comedy, A Little Chaos would have benefited from Rickman spending more time in front of, rather than behind, the camera.