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Kings and Queen (Bilingual) [Import]

Emmanuelle Devos , Geoffrey Carey , Arnaud Desplechin    Unrated   DVD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Amazon.ca

A film can be smart and subtle and still be a roller coaster ride. Case in point: Kings and Queen; Arnaud Desplechin's brilliant, exhilarating movie never takes a predictable turn. We follow two people along mostly parallel paths: Nora (Emmanuelle Devos, from Read My Lips), a chic gallery owner with an ailing father and an impending marriage, and Ismael (Mathieu Amalric), a hyperactive musician who's been sent to a psychiatric hospital against his will. The story of the self-contained Nora can be as scorching as an Ingmar Bergman movie (especially late in the film), while daffy Ismael's tale is a screwball comedy at times--complete with a droll Catherine Deneuve as his bemused doctor. Desplechin's How I Got Into an Argument… (My Sex Life) was one of the best European films of the 1990s (also starring Amalric and Devos), and he is gifted with a sure sense of human behavior as well as cinematic dexterity.. Rarely have so many scenes of people talking in rooms flown by so quickly. Movies need not travel to exotic locales to summon up an adventure, and this is film adventuring of a high order. --Robert Horton

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5.0 out of 5 stars Multi-Layered and Complex Relationships July 16 2006
Format:DVD
Emanuelle Devos plays Nora a successful 35 year old art gallery owner whose current boyfriend/fiance provides her with the queenly lifestyle to which she aspires, however the viewer gradually learns he has a darkside which Nora either denies or ... or to which she is strangely attracted. Initially, Nora seems a pulled together highly successful person but as the deep inner layers of her life are explored and peeled back, many facets of her complex and confusing nature are revealed using flashbacks to her past life. Her personality and life decisions are shown in a most ingenious manner by the director. This film is a totally satisfying viewing experience despite the temptation to just shake her up with a good heart-to-heart talk about the decisions she is contemplating related to raising her son. Then again, given her complex convoluted nature, maybe she is doing the right thing after all. The film is very surreal in its portrayal of her multifaceted personality and convoluted emotional life... all of which seem to revolve around the "kings" or men in her life. She is of course "the queen."

The complex and tempestuous father-daughter relationship is revealed with her discovery and reading of her father's personal diary. She learns about his innner most feelings and thoughts when he is dying of stomach cancer. She helps navigate the healthcare system to meet his end-of-life needs. While initially she seemed a very composed sophisticated, together type person, her emotional complexity and neediness nearly unglues her life as the viewer learns how the several "Kings" in her life rule her emotions: her father, her ex-husband Ismael, her son, and the memory of a past love interest, the father of her son, who died in a motorcycle accident.
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Format:DVD
This film really should have brought the director Andres Desplechin much deserved and long overdue fame outside of the relatively small world of cinephiles; it is one of the best films to come out of France (as far as I can tell) in a long time, and one of the best films of the year from anywhere. While very different, and a bit darker, I would compare the film to Jules and Jim for its fresh and illuminating power.

It tells the story of Nora (the "Queen" played by the always intriguing Emmanuelle Devos), and the men in her life, most notably her two exes (one of whom either died or was killed and the other who has just been committed to a mental hospital), her current husband, her son, and her father. She is, it seems, a light and lovely woman who one cannot help but admire, but one who (as we come to discover) can also devastate those who love her. The film comes to alternate between Nora's point of view and that of Ismael, her lively if a bit neurotic ex-husband. The characters are brought to life in a remarkable way, and the stories are brought to a very thoughtful and satisfying (even if a bit troubling) conclusion, insofar as both characters have a deep but very different connection to Nora's son. One feature of the film that is particularly intriguing is the way in which (we) the audience are led to reevaluate our own allegiances to the various characters throughout the film.

The film does start out a bit slowly, and takes its time to tell its stories, but it gradually came to grip me and I couldn't shake (and didn't want to) the feelings and memories and questions it raised for me for several days afterwards.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 Stars: The Search Dec 27 2005
By MICHAEL ACUNA - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
There is a chilling scene towards the end of the brilliant, acidic and poetic "Kings and Queen" which shoots a flaming arrow through the heart of any notion that we may have that this film is in any way melodramatic or sentimental (the movie begins and ends with "Moon River"): Nora (the amazing Emmanuelle Devos) comes upon a passage in her dead father, Louis's diary in which he writes about her and among other very cold and brutally honest things, he writes: "I hate that you will survive me...I wish that you were the one dying...I hate you." Couple this with Louis' admission that, since his wife, Nora's mother was sick for a long time, he fell in love with Nora and that she took advantage of his feelings for her...in essence she seduced him. Incest? I'm not sure.
Director Arnaud Desplechin shoots this scene both in color (Nora reading) and in flickering, silent film style black and white (Louis reciting his diary): this simple set up is so effective and so truthful that you gasp with recognition and understanding. Desplechin is dealing with the basic things of life here and what better in this scene than "the thin line between love and hate?"
Desplechin is telling two stories here: one with Nora (and this Nora shares many qualities with Ibsen's Nora...i.e.....she recreates herself during the course of this film) and that of Ismael (the formidable Mathieu Almaric): a former lover of Nora's and a man who is bi-polar, though I prefer the old name for this disease, manic depression which more perfectly describes Ismael.
Nora spends the entire film looking for a father for her child, Elias and Ismael spends the entire film looking for a safe place for himself. One of the most interesting things about this film is that out-of-control Ismael has a big, loving family who surround him with an all-encompassing warm fog of positivism while the controlled, "my father always taught me to control my emotions" Nora really has no one except her son. Nora and Ismael's worlds are opposite of the supposed natural order of things: aren't the well-loved and cared for supposed to be "sane" while the ill nurtured are more often, "crazy?"
Desplechin is dealing with so many things here: mental illness, paternal and maternal love and all its variations, drug addiction, the elements of psychiatric care, male/female relationships and on and on that it took me several viewings to begin to digest and understand all the things with which Desplechin has stuffed his film.
"Kings and Queen" is palpably disturbing on many levels. It is not a comfortable, easily definable film. It's emotions and feelings are sometimes so brutally honest that they physically hurt. But like Nora and Ismael if you survive the ordeal ...you will be better and smarter for it.
27 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ingmar Bergman meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Nov. 30 2005
By C. B Collins Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This is a pretty complex work of art, so be ready for 2.5 hours of moody melodrama and odd-ball comedy. There are two major story lines in this film, not the typical pattern of a central story line that has a few tangents. These two story lines have equal weight and are allowed to develop for over an hour independent of each other before the films allows the overlap of stories and characters.

In the first story, a beautiful and sophisticated woman, Nora, visits her retired university professor father and finds him very ill. Supported by the staff of the art gallery she manages as well as a sophisticated millionaire boyfriend, she begins to assist her father navigate the medical system. She contacts her junkie sister who begins to hitch hike to her father's side before he dies. She competently holds everything together until a hospice nurse begins to help as the old man goes down for the third time. The intense emotions, the odd dreams, the confrontive relationships full of old hurts, all reminded me of Ingmar Bergman's moody films.

In the second story, a delightfully eccentric musician is hospitalized in a mental hospital at the request of his rageful sister and some unknown party. Ismael, the musician, is comic, creative, resourceful, delightful, sensitive, eccentric, and oddly sexy. He does on a quest to find out who and why he was hositalized. He gets little help from his addicted lawyer or his cold psychiatrist, played by Catherine Deneuve. He continues to see his African Freudian psychotherapist, whom he has seen for 7 years, and we are treated to some wonderful scenes of psychotherapy gone astray. As Ismael runs amuck in the poorly supervised mental hospital, I was reminded of One Flew Oer the Cuckoo's Nest, however there is no mean Nurse Rachett, there are only poorly supervised mental patients eating each other's medications and smoking pot. Ismael is attracted to women in crisis, and finds a suicidal young woman in the hospital, which begins to give us a clue into the relationship he and Nora shared years ago.

We find that Nora was reared by her father to be proud, in control, and highly competent and self contained. Her first husband dies in an automobile accident while she is pregnant and yet she choses to have the baby and proudfully move forward with her life and career as a single mother. Only gradually do we learn that the story was not really as heroic or simple.

Ismael learns that through his delightful and loving family that his crazy rageful sister had him committed along with the business partner of his string quartet.

Nora's father dies before her sister Chloe arrives and when Chole arrives she is in a rage that he died before she arrives.

Gradually the tragic, moody, complicated story of Nora unfolds and we find that she murdered her first boyfriend and her father helped coach her testimony to cover up the incident. Later Nora gives her father enough morphine to kill his pain but also to overdose him and speed his death.

How do these two stories overlap? Well at one time Nora was married to Ismael, a time that you realize was very happy for them both. He was rescuing a woman in pain and she found a fresh soul to nourish her. Nora wishes for Ismael to adopt her son before she marries the sophisticated millionaire who has become her lover but not her emotional support. At first this makes no sense, but as we get to know the sane side of Ismael and the dark side of Nora, it begins to make all the sense in the world.

Nora's father has raised her to be totally emotionally competent and contained, to be the Queen, to meet her own needs, and yet the old man has grown to dispise his creation, to dispise her strength and ability to distance herself emotionally from the events at hand. He parts from this life mostly concerned with editing his last book yet he leaves a final painful parting shot in a crushingly cruel letter to Nora.

We now realize that Nora knows that she was reared by an intellectual sadist father and she wants her son to be adopted by a loving and insane man, Ismael, her second husband. Ismael declines this request, knowing that the 9 year old fellow is beyond his ability to emotionally support over the long term. Yet Ismael explains this to Nora's son in completely beautiful and loving and confirming ways when they spend a day in the natural history museum. Nora's father was internationally known for his brilliance, yet he was cruel to his daughters. Ismael, on the other hand, the runaway mental patient, is loving, caring for others, erotic, honest, playful, and creative.

In an odd way, the film reminds me of Charles Dicken's Great Expectations. In Dickens novel, the proudful Estalla has been emptionally reared to treat men cruely by Miss Havisham. Yet in the end, Estella does not marry Pip, the sweet boy that loves her, and selects to marry a man with whom she is not emotionally attached but also one she will not hurt. Estella and Nora have some traits in common.

You are probably tired of reading all this at this point. I need to tell you that I have only scratched the surface of this film. It is multi-layered with meanings hidden within meanings. It is exceptionally well made, well acted, well written, and beautifully filmed. It is complex and adult. No one is a villian, not one is a hero, they are what they are - living characters - which attests to the strength of this film.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really remarkable and brilliant film, one of the best of 2005 Nov. 25 2005
By Nathan Andersen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This film really should have brought the director Andres Desplechin much deserved and long overdue fame in the United States; it is one of the best films to come out of France (as far as I can tell) in a long time, and one of the best films of the year from anywhere. While very different, and a bit darker, I would compare the film to Jules and Jim for its fresh and illuminating power.

It tells the story of Nora (the "Queen" played by the always intriguing Emmanuelle Devos), and the men in her life, most notably her two exes (one of whom either died or was killed and the other who has just been committed to a mental hospital), her current husband, her son, and her father. She is, it seems, a light and lovely woman who one cannot help but admire, but one who (as we come to discover) can also devastate those who love her. The film comes to alternate between Nora's point of view and that of Ismael, her lively if a bit neurotic ex-husband. The characters are brought to life in a remarkable way, and the stories are brought to a very thoughtful and satisfying (even if a bit troubling) conclusion, insofar as both characters have a deep but very different connection to Nora's son. One feature of the film that is particularly intriguing is the way in which (we) the audience are led to reevaluate our own allegiances to the various characters throughout the film.

The film does start out a bit slowly, and takes its time to tell its stories, but it gradually came to grip me and I couldn't shake (and didn't want to) the feelings and memories and questions it raised for me for several days afterwards. Desplechin employs several devices on occasion, such as blink jump cuts and fantasy scenes, that in the hands of a lesser director would amount to cliche or ostentatious display (I think of the recent film Stay with Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts along these lines: it overused its trickery to the point where it began feeling gimmicky) but here gives just the right atmosphere: leaving us a bit unsure of what is real and what is point of view or reconstruction, even while everything as it unfolds has the same aura of authenticity. It is really too bad that there is no market except on the fringe (where arthouse theaters seem to have been relegated in most cities) for films this thoughtful and sophisticated in the United States. (It never played in my market (Tampa Bay, FL) even at the arthouse theaters.)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why French Cinema Rules March 29 2011
By James La France - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is a brilliant, unusual, tragic, funny, and complex film that delineates characters and family dynamics we've encountered in real life, that I've never seen portrayed on film before. It's a masterpiece; don't miss it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent movie and Emmanuelle Devos is magnificent. Sept. 5 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful movie, intelligent, thrilling, philosophical...It's a great story and a deep psychological study of the main character played by the divine Devos. I think this is by far her best movie. One of my favorite movies ever.
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