A Little Chaos

A Little Chaos, A Lot of Heart

2015 Newport Beach Film Festival 

 

SYNOPSIS

A landscape designer, selected to construct the opulent King Louis XIV’s garden at Versailles, is drawn into battle both professionally and romantically with the king’s chief architect.

A cast that is utterly impossible to ignore, actor and thespian, Alec Rickman makes his second directorial debut with “A Little Chaos” bringing audiences a period piece that explores the many facets of love, life’s abounding need for duty, and the universality of the obstacles that get in our way … all centered around a landscape of both land and heart.

Starring Kate Winslet, Matthias SchoenaertsStanley Tucci, and Alan Rickman.

Thrilled to be invited to attend the screening of A Little Chaos, I made my way through traffic and finally arrived at the Lido Live Theatre. It is an enchanting theater with a bit of a 1970’s vibe: satin curtains drawn back from the screen nestled against the backdrop of Costa Mesa and an uncanny feel of transcending to another time. The setting was perfect, especially since this particular screening was about to transport us to the times of King Louis XIV’s reign (a fascinating man in history!). Movie about to start, the theatre employees corralled everyone in the theater and kindly asked us all to take our seats. I wanted to find the best seat and I am an avid believer in sitting a tad left of the screen so I made my way. Sadly, I was dismayed to find those seats had been taken and so, I had to ultimately settle on what I like to call the, “middle, middle” (which proved prime real estate once the film began playing).

 

A long time fan of Kate Winslet and British humor, I was really looking forward to this movie. With bouts of humorous banter that didn’t disappoint, the film was one that explored a much deeper theme of loss and uncertainty about our place in the world. Every character facing their own form of loss, discovery and hardship, the film’s title lends to the emotional chaos they each endure. Through the reference to the grounds themselves and gardens in need of some order, the film tackles tragedy, tarnished relationships, betrayal, beauty and a untimely death, A Little Chaos begs you to reflect on your own endured losses. The movie also reminds us of how easy it is to slip into psychosis as a result of such things. While the focus of the film is not on Winslet’s character, Sabine de Barra, her sanity, and her state of mind certainly are brought into question as glimpses of her own past are revealed throughout which only lend to the love story that is ever present. As the love affair between Sabine de Barra and Andre le Norte (played by Matthias Schoenaerts) plays out, it is overshadowed by the progression of each character’s story, only adding the intrigue and interest.

Shot beautifully, even with a story so somber in it’s essence, the cinematography was poignant in sharing the feelings of depression and loss with a slight gray filter on the lens that set the mood. Even the dialogue was delivered in a somber way that helped reiterate the state of each character. While the film had it’s slow moments, I would recommend this to anyone looking for a non-traditional love story. The film gives audiences permission to find their own solace in feelings of loss and heartache. That, in my opinion, makes it a success.

A glimpse at the performances: Winslet delivered an empowering performance, making it near impossible to distance yourself from the pain, heartache and helplessness her character was experiencing. Barra was a woman who wanted love but was so lost in the chaos, she found it difficult to fully submit. A longtime fan of Alan Rickman, who played Louis the Great, I was pleased at his performance. His performance was the perfect mixture of comedy and sorrow. He stays true to the character throughout and his relationship with Winslet’s character, Sabine, is charming. Winslet’s character keeps the king on his toes, and their witty dialogue helps progress the storyline. This film needed a strong comedic lead and Tucci, who played Philippe Duc D’orleans, came to the rescue in perfect execution. His nonchalance elevated the film and allowed the viewer to take much needed breaks in between the heavier parts of the story.

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