Mon Roi – Maïwenn

UnknownEmmanuelle Bercot had a cracking year at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.  First off she directed the opening film La Tȇte Haute to generally positive reviews. She then switched hats to take a leading in role in Maïwenn’s Mon Roi opposite the ever-watchable Vincent Cassel for which she took home the Best Actress prize.  Expectations were high for Maiïwenn’s follow up to Polisse which won the Jury Prize at Cannes four years ago. But this tortured love story between toxic lovers, Giorgio (Cassel) and Tony (Bercot) fails to exert the same pull.  It’s difficult to see what attracted  Maïwenn to this story apart from its semi-autobiographical nature.  From the beginning Giorgio and Toni’s love affair is doomed to fail as the couple act more like lovestruck adolescents than a professional  lawyer and a successful businessman. The film is claustrophic and repetitive with the action centring solely on the couple’s unhealthy relationship.  At times, Mon Roi reads more like a study of a woman on the verge of a nervous break-down rather than a love affair between consenting adults.  And is Giorgio the one responsible for Tony’s fragile mental state or vice versa? Either way, it’s uncomfortable viewing made worse by Bercot’s over-blown, unconvincing performance.

Following a serious skiing accident, Tony is admitted to a rehabilitation centre and undergoes intense physical therapy to regain the use of her leg. The enforced period of confinement is the catalyst for a period of reflection on her tumultuous relationship with ex-husband Giorgio and the years they spent together. The film kicks off with the two meeting in a crowded nightclub and tracks the relationship through its many ups-and-downs including the birth of their child, Tony’s suicide attempt and Giorgio’s relationships with other women..

Supporting roles from Louis Garrel, who was a fabulous, smouldering Jacques de Bascher in Betrand Bonello’s Saint Laurent and here reveals a pleasing lighter side than usual, and Isild Le Besco (Maïwenn’s sister) are satisfying and offer some relief from Giorgio and Tony’s narcissistic obsessions. Less credible is Bercot who goes into overdrive to infuse her character with any real emotion and depth.  Every meeting with Giorgio in the early stages of the relationship is the occasion for Tony to dissolve into hysterical bouts of laughter.  And when out in the real world they make for a toe-curlingingly, self-conscious couple. A scene in a restaurant when Giorgio pretends to be a waiter much to Tony’s guffawing approval is a prime example.  This couple is trying way too hard to be exceptional and original and their outrageous behaviour makes them unsympathetic and downright offputting.
It’s ironic that Bercot should direct La Tȇte Haute, the gritty tale of a child brought up by the state after the parent’s failure to provide a secure loving home. And then take on the role of a mother whose parenting skills and those of Giorgio are a real cause for concern.

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