Starring: Emmanuelle Bercot, Vincent Cassel, Louis Garrel
Not to overlook the leading ladies of this film, Maiwenn the director and Bercot the lead actress, but My King is a success because of the man the title is referring to; Georgio, played perfectly by a genius Cassel. This French actor is a phenomenon, and we are lucky to have him as a cross-over talent in Hollywood as well, so that we can see him in his native country and also in our more familiar American cinema. Eastern Promises, Black Swan, A Dangerous Method, Partisan, Tale of Tales; pick up a film starring Vincent Cassel and I guarantee a performance like no other, and more often than not one that steals the show. He's a transcendent talent, a natural villain, a complex hero, an actor who can take on any job. It's refreshing to see him in a French film, where he seems even more comfortable, is even more impressive, and jumps off the screen as an unparalleled delight.
Tony, a single mother of a young boy, is injured in a skiing accident going much too fast downslope. Her accident becomes a metaphor for her life, as she gradually recovers from an exciting yet traumatic incident that has left her scarred but ultimately stronger. As she stays for many weeks at a rehabilitation center, she spends her time remembering the most important events of her life; meeting a man named Georgio, having a lovely son together, and separating after many years of boisterous unhappiness. Tony recalls the past while looking toward the future, using her quiet moments wisely as a way to accept the things that she cannot change, and to plan ahead for a life that still has such promise.
Tony met Georgio at a club, dripping water into his face to spark his memory. They had actually met before, years prior, when they were both quite young. Tony, a lawyer and a student, remembers Georgio for his way with women, his smooth manner, and his sharp humor. Georgio, on his part, doesn't remember Tony at all, but quickly falls for her, even though she doesn't resemble the models he is used to dating. Georgio is a wild man, fast with a joke, but slow with responsibilities, an untamed animal who doesn't mind using his sex and his charm to convince those who should run away to stay. So begins a tumultuous love affair between two people who cannot let go, even though they know they should.
If the plot seems too common, believe me, it is not. There are elements that we've seen before, as there are in any love story, but those elements only make the film feel real, not recycled. A passionate love, two people who aren't perfect for each other, the inability to ever really move on; yes we've seen that before, but perhaps never better, as My King brings a certain frightening truth to the screen in a way that's not always comfortable, but should be greatly appreciated. It isn't the film of the year, but there is so much here that deserves our attention, from the weaving of an alternative romance to the lessons we can all learn about trust, love, and the danger of opening ourselves up to a person who isn't able to take care of our most delicate pieces.
Perhaps a French film about the difficulties of love doesn't sound like the most exciting way to spend two hours, and I might agree with you, if it weren't for the performance of Vincent Cassel, something that basically blew me away. He plays Georgio with such complex emotions, making him at once a god and a monster, showing us both the beauty and the horror of falling in love. And doubtless we all know someone who is a little like this character: a swindler, a cheat, a rebel, a free spirit, the life of the party, but not someone you can depend on. Imagine falling desperately in love with that person, or better yet, watch it happen here. My King is a film that brings life to the screen, not needing to reinvent the wheel, because reality is often unfathomable enough.
Video: With an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 Widescreen and shot using a Sony CineAlta PMW-F55 camera with Zeiss Super Speed and Angenieux Optimo lenses, the video quality of the film is quite strong, with a great eye for detail and an ultimate focus on the characters; their faces, their moods, their inner thoughts, their small victories and defeats. The picture quality isn't amazing, but it is clear and strong, delivering all we could ask for from a drama.
Audio: The DVD was done in French 5.1 Surround, with an option of French Stereo. The film is subtitled in English, with no other language or text options than to turn it completely off. The audio quality was fine, with no magic moments or cringe-worthy issues. The use of music was subtle, the film is mostly dialogue, and the sound doesn't really ever become a noticeable technical aspect.
Extras: There are quite a few special features on the disc. There is a short film called I'm An Actrice, a 24-minute story of an irresponsible mother who wants to make her 10-year-old daughter into a movie star. One deleted scene is available, a 3-minute cut called Wolves. 15 minutes of outtakes are included for your viewing pleasure. There are seven trailers to watch: My King, Neither Heaven Nor Earth, My Love Don't Cross That River, The Ardennes, Breathe, Full Moon in Paris, The Best Intentions. And you can learn about Film Movement in a short paragraph.
Highly Recommended. Were in not for Vincent Cassel, My King would be a nice but otherwise forgettable bit of French dramatics. It's a love story, a difficult one to watch at times, an inspiration at others, but ultimately only a fine film, not anything extraordinary. Add in Cassel though, and his performance takes it to another level. His character was well-written and well-played, a lovable asshole who you couldn't imagine living with but would love to have over for a drink. Cassel stole the show as Georgio, but I don't think anyone will complain, since he quickly becomes the #1 reason to watch. The video of the film was nice, the audio was normal, and there are a few extras, so the technical aspects of the movie don't let you down. But the quality is in the acting and the simplicity of the story, in the passion behind the love between these characters, and what each of us can take away from the tale.