” A Little Chaos ” is a visually beautiful film, but you should not expect any facts about Louis XIV’s life. This is only a pretext to a romance.
This story is not about the King nor his gardens, but about a childless widow who thanks to her landscape garderner talents, has been hired by André le Nôtre to create the “bosquet des Rocailles”, an outside ball in the gardens of Versailles.
This movie by Alan Rickman is an alternative back into the History of France. In a majestic – though not French – setting or an extremely – still not French – muddy one. The extravagant costumes of the time with a lot of gold, brightly coloured and wigs are worn by made-up gentlemen as it had to be for the richest. So it was pretty easy to notice the two main characters that are Sabine de Barra (Kate Winslet) and André Le Nôtre (Matthias Schoenaerts). These characters and costumes were more “simple” compared to this ostentatious side and show-off that was Versailles’ court.
You feel a slowness in the movie that lasts almost two hours, and the romance between Sabine de Barra and André le Nôtre is a story you’ve already seen before. It’s a kind of somewhat cat and mouse game between a wounded woman and a man married to an unfaithful venal & superficial wife. Not to mention Kate Winslet’s flashbacks and illusions, explaining her sadness? They come like a bombshell and are finally quite annoying for the story. What a pity.
Fortunately, the cast is good. Kate Winslet plays her role with emotion and manages to make you want to know the mystery that surrounds her. Matthias Schoenaerts plays André le Nôtre very well and Stanley Tucci is able to deliver an accurate extravagant side to the Duke of Orleans without exaggeration. As for Alan Rickman, he interprets the Sun King with a theatrical way, greatness (that Louis XIV probably thought incarnate) and with humanity that you don’t expect from a King trying to be God.