Friday, February 2, 2018

The Affair of the Necklace (2001)

I didn't even know this film existed until I found the title listed On Demand. Being this history buff that I am, I clicked on to it hoping that it was about a certain pricey necklace that's theft helped discredit a certain extravagant French Queen.

And much to my delight, it was just that story... and very well done to boot.

The story is based on fact and than liberally sprinkled with the rumors that surrounded the popular rumors in pre-revolutionary France. A young countess who is denied the acknowledgment of her family name finds a way to steal the most expensive necklace ever made at the time by swindling the jewelers to believe it was being purchased in the name of Queen Marie Antoinette.

Hilary Swank plays the Countess Valois, and while she often seems dry, she plays the part of a conniving if somewhat naive young aristocrat quite well. The cast is stocked with fun personalities, my particular favorite being Christopher Walken as the mystic Count Cagliostro.

The sets and costumes are very beautiful, and really make this an aesthetically pleasing film to watch. The story itself is entertaining to watch unfold, complete with little court scandals and debaucheries that one would expect from French nobility at the time. The soundtrack is also very pleasing, if not historically appropriate.

On the downside, asides from more than a handful of historical errors there is a matter of characters either being understated or overstated and at times clashing with one another. I was particularly disappointed with the way Antoinette was portrayed, which seemed very one-dimensional. Truth be told, I'm hard-pressed to assign any character to the status of "good guy" because every last one of them had much villainy in them in one manner or another, even those who were technically the victims of the crime.

But don't let that stop you from watching it, for a cast full of villains makes it interesting to decide who exactly to root for. Personally, I enjoyed the film very much. I was even impressed that they included the name of my favorite historical character in the credits, although he was not called by name in the film.

Film information: The Affair of the Necklace

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