TIFF 2014: A Little Chaos Review

A Little Chaos

Gala/Closing Night Film

Actor Alan Rickman’s stately period drama about the construction of the fountains and gardens at the Palace of Versailles couldn’t be more boring if it was actually about the intricacies of gardening. Instead, it’s an inert drama that doesn’t improve on the sight of the same actors digging for worms in a mud pit for two hours.

Widowed landscape artist Sabine de Barra (Kate Winslet, back in heaving bosom corsets, but this time in duller colours to make her look like a working woman) gets called in to talk to the chief architect (Matthias Schoenaerts) of King Louis XIV (Rickman) about making something that would make history in the refined world. Tensions arise thanks to Sabine being a woman, a perceived flirtation between her and her boss, and the death of the philandering king’s wife.


Rickman has nothing to work with here, and neither does his cast. So he instead focuses on making things as opulent as possible to overcompensate for a complete lack of characterization or story. None of these people are interesting, especially Winslet’s keenly inert lead, who should be strong, but isn’t. She also isn’t weak. She’s just along for the ride, making the film around her just as dull an confused. The only people having a modicum of fun here are Scoenaerts and a brief appearance from Stanley Tucci, in what’s initially built up to be a major supporting role that ends up extending to only a pair of scenes where he doesn’t do anything.

It’s also confused sloppy filmmaking, with Rickman never getting a handle on the pacing, editing, or visual style of the film. Maybe that could be overcome if the film actually had a personality of some form or another, but it’s ultimately so stately and refined that it negates its own existence.


Saturday, September 13th, 6:30pm, Princess of Wales (PREMIUM)


Saturday, September 13th, 8:00pm, Roy Thomson Hall (PREMIUM)

Sunday, September 14th, 9:00am, Scotiabank 2

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