Dir: Martin Bourboulon | Wris: Matthieu Delaporte, Alexandre de La Patelliére | Cast: Francois Civil, Vincent Cassel, Louis Garrel, Vicki Krieps, Romain Duris, Pio Marmai, Eva Green, Lyna Khoudri | France, 121′
When it comes to swashbuckling the three musketeers are certainly the men for the job. And with a smile as broad and beaming as a silver cutlass, Francois Civil leads the glittering international cast in this spritely and splendidly mounted seventeenth century French epic based on the mid nineteenth century novels of Alexandre Dumas, whose own father served as a valued general under Napoleon.
On a rain-soaked night in 1627 a lone rider arrives at a fortress in Paris. He is Charles D’Artagnan of Gascony and he hopes to join the court of King Louis XIII as a faithful musketeer alongside the trusty Athos (Vincent Cassel), Portos (Pio Marmai) and Aramis (Roman Duris). Martin Bourboulon is a director well used to delivering on the big screen as we saw in Eiffel, and he doesn’t disappoint here in Part I of this historical action drama with its sparkling script and elegant costumes (Part II – Milady, follows later this year).
During this era of religious turbulence France has been enjoying a stable time under Louis XIII. But the storm clouds are gathering and the Protestants are a force to be reckoned with and ever close to the King of England with their stronghold of La Rochelle. More than ever, the King needs the protection of his household guard – a triumvirate force of three main musketeers with their fire power and chivalrous swordsmanship.
There’s plenty of intrigue and some magnificent fighting scenes to keep the most exacting cineastes entertained. Louis Garrel makes for a convincing King whose brother is soon to be married. But Cardinal Richelieu (Ruf) is sceptical about celebrating when the throne should be focusing on more serious internecine matters. Not to mention court intrigue involving the French Queen, Anne of Austria (Krieps) and her romantic liaison with the Duke of Buckingham (Fortune-Lloyd). The final act turns on a secret love token she offers the Duke, and her life will depend on getting it back. This race against time provides the film with its thrilling denouement and puts D’Artagnan on his mettle in the cliffhanger finale that sets us up for part two where Eva Green’s venomous Milady will sashay into action.
So nothing extraordinary about this latest Dumas drama – just another reliably enjoyable bodice-buster that never takes itself too seriously unfolding in soft candlelight and stirring sword-fighting scenes in the lush French countryside. MT
NOW ON RELEASE IN FRANCE