The Count of Monte Cristo (2024)

July 2nd, 2024
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dirs/Wri: Matthieu Delaporte, Alexandre De La Patellière | Cast: Pierre Niney, Anaïs Demoustier, Bastien Bouillon, Laurent Lafitte, Patrick Mille, Anamaria Vartolomei, Vassili Schneider, Julien De Saint-Jean, Pierfrancesco Favino | France. 2024. 178mins

The Napoleonic era is seen in a different light from Ridley Scott’s recent epic in this swashbuckling sortie into French history from 19th literary darling Alexandre Dumas based on his storied hero The Count of Monte Cristo.

In 1812 Napoleon’s fleet is embattled in churning seas when a dashing young sailor gets his kit off to save a young woman from drowning. It’s an act that will bring him promotion to captain of the fleet and to ask the hand of his sweetheart. He is Edmund Dantes (Pierre Niney), she is Mercedes (Demoustier). And what a lovely couple they make. Edmund shyly sexy and Mercedes quivering with nubile bliss. But there’s a niggle in the woodpile in the shape of a jealous rival – in fact several – determined to thwart him at every turn. And no sooner than the lovers’ lips are dry from their post nuptial kiss than Edmund is seized on a charge of treason and imprisoned on the forbidding Chateau d’If in an island off the Marseille coast.

This epic adventure written by Delaporte and De La Patelliere is a tale rife with revenge and intrigue in a complex plot bursting with romance, sword play and fabulous settings. And it’s Niney’s most ambitious role to date. There are several baddies to contend with, Fernand de Morcef (Bouillon) who fancies Mercedes, scheming prosecutor Gerard de Villefort (Lafitte) who imprisons him without trial, and the curiously named Danglars (Mille) whom Edmonde replaced as captain. But of course Dantes is the focus as we soon find out why in his intriguing character evolvement from earnest young salt to hard-bitten hero.

After fourteen years of incarceration in his dank dungeon Edmund miraculously tools through a gap in the stone walls and comes face to face with a distant relative of the Monte Cristo in the shape of fellow prisoner (Abbe) Pier Francesco Favino. A close bond of trust forms in these challenging circumstances and Abbe divulges the location of his family treasure before tragedy strikes on the eve of a tension-fuelled escapade to uncover the secret of the hidden booty. But on returning home Edmund discovers that his love is now married to his ‘best friend’ and that his father has died of a broken heart.

Zipping through its three hour running time this tale of derring-do then transports us to a lavish palace where our hero has slipped into a more mysterious guise as the soi disant Comte de Monte Cristo, a raffish, tee totaller seeking justice but killing only in his defence, and supported by sidekicks, Andréa (Julien De Saint-Jean) and the enigmatic Haydée (Anamaria Vartolomei), who both have axes to grind with Edmund’s enemies. Residing in an opulent palace showcasing his newly acquired fortune Edmund sets out to exact retribution, and we root for him until the end, in this classically styled adventure drama with solid gold production values and  sweepingly romantic score. @MeredithTaylor


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