Simply A Masterpiece
Memorable, crazy movie
If the ambition is to provide two hours of instantly forgettable, popcorn-munching escapism, it succeeds.
This story has more twists and turns than a second-rate soap opera.
Although I am a native English-speaker I usually have no trouble following dialogue in French but I found the dialogue of this film very hard to follow.I agree with a previous reviewer that the background music is obtrusive. Another problem is the switching from English into French, Corsican Italian, English and back again, which makes it harder to "tune in" to the speaker, and the British actors speak French with a heavy accent.There are only French subtitles, and these are only for the parts of the dialogue which are spoken in English. Also, they cannot be read unless you have your screen format set to full wide-screen, so you are watching the film through a letterbox slot! I did not find this to be Richard E Grant's best performance, and I agree with another reviewer that the "ageing" make-up was clumsy.I shall watch it again, to see if I can pick up any more of the dialogue. It could have been a good film, but it was let down by what I think they call post-production. Perhaps they ran out of money? I expect they spent a lot on the costumes and locations.
Director Antoine de Caunes has adapted Rene Mansor's fine screenplay concerning the enigma that still exists as to the final resting place of Napoleon Bonaparte into a film that relates the period of history from 1816 to 1840 during which time the bifurcated responses of the British and French to the legend of Napoleon initiated the scandal that still piques our interest.Opening in 1816 Napoleon (the brilliant Philippe Torreton) is imprisoned on the island of St. Helena along with his most trusted supporters and various citizens who elected to follow him into exile - with an eye on Napoleon's fortune when he dies. There is a new British Governor appointed, Hudson Lowe (Richard E. Grant), who is steely and determined to prevent Napoleon's escape and yes, even protect the British government from the costly extended prison expenditures a prolonged exile will produce. Lowe appoints Basil Heathcote (Jay Rodan) to sit in watch of the Emperor/General only to come under the spell of the mysterious Napoleon and the spell of a young girl Betsy Balcombe (Siobhan Hewlett) who is in love with Napoleon. Others among Napoleon's party include the Montholons (Stephane Freiss and Elsa Zylberstein) the latter of whom Napoleon keeps as his mistress and impregnates, Cipriani (Bruno Putzulu) his butler and half brother, Ali (Igor Skreblin) his bodyguard, Marshal Bertand (Roschdy Zem) his aide de camp, among others. Napoleon's self perception as the Emperor makes him unavailable to close scrutiny and rumors fly about his proposed escapes and about the British idea of poisoning him. There is great mystery surrounding Napoleon's ultimate death and burial and this mystery is what drives the story in flash forward sequences to the investigation of Napoleon's ultimate exhumation to see if the man buried in Les Invalides in Paris is actually Napoleon Bonaparte - and if not, where is the true Napoleon buried? The period atmosphere on St. Helena is scrupulously recreated, allowing a superb playing ground for the many fine performances by an excellent cast. We see Napoleon as we've never seen him, a multi-dimensional character with whom we, as viewers, tend to sympathize. This is not only due to the fine script but also to the unique portrayal by Philippe Torreton. The film is in both French and English, with English subtitles for the French only. And therein lies the fault of this otherwise superb film. The ambient sounds of the crashing sea and the annoyingly loud musical score by Stephan Eicher cover the English dialogue to such an extent that it cannot be heard most of the time. This is a film that would greatly benefit from re-mastering to add English subtitles for the entire film AND by making it available in full screen instead of the widescreen that reduces much of the action to miniaturization! Otherwise, this is a superb period piece that opens questions about historical accuracy that invite investigation. Grady Harp
Very well done! Great film! Well acted. Well written. Good directing. Good camera work. Beautiful visually from both the directing/camera work, and the picturesque scenery. Great acting performances all around.I like how the film isn't just in French, or just in English. The English characters speak English to each other, and speak French to the French. The French characters speak French. This gives the film a realistic feel. Great storytelling. The viewer falls prey to Napoleon's charismatic charm as much as those who knew him in person, and we come to feel for him, as if he is a victim of his imprisonment, rather than a deposed tyrannical dictator paying for his vast crimes. His humbled situation brings out his humanity and weakness, yet he still retains his dominance, but through subtler control than his former meglomanical ways. It is almost as if he has lured the audience into routing for him and pitying him, while he secretly pulls our strings. It is also refreshing to see the human side of a once powerful ruler, and brutal military commander, through witnessing his relationships and interactions with others. We tend to only see powerful world leaders in their public personas, without getting to voyeuristically peer into their private lives, and therefore, they seem larger than life, rather than a human being going through the things we all go through in life. Life plays no favorites, nor spares anyone based on title or fame. I am a history buff, and I enjoy most well made historical films, but I think anyone would enjoy this. It has intrigue, romance, action, dialog, storytelling, conjecture, moving moments, something for everyone. It is not "boring history", but the juicy bits that fell through the cracks, that cannot be found in a text book, the story within the story so to speak. The film is based on a combination of know facts, and explored theory. It is an intriguing conspiracy theory, that could well have happened. We may never know the whole truth about Napoleon's fate, but isn't it fun to explore the what ifs, especially the ones that make a glorious story? As with Billy The Kid, Jessie James, Elvis, & Jim Morrison, among others, Napoleon's legend is romanticized, and made even grander by the thought that he may have cheated death and fame, and "rode off into the sunset"... Watch the film, you'll enjoy it.
In the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, Napoleon Bonaparte is sent to Saint Helena, an island in the middle of the South Atlantic. "Monsieur N." presents a version of the last days of this great leader through the eyes of the British officer assigned to be his liaison with the British governor of St. Helena.I do not know details of the life of Napoleon Bonaparte in his exile, but this movie is very confused and I have not caught the objective and reasons of the search of Basil Heathcote for the last days of Napoleon Bonaparte in St. Helena and his body. The movie has an awesome cinematography, but is also too long and boring in some parts. Last but not the least, the DVD released in Brazil by the distributor "Casablanca Filmes" has problems with the subtitles, presenting partially most of them. When the dialogs are in English, I do not have problem to understand, but I have practically lost most of those in French. Imagine the situation of an average Brazilian viewer that can not understand English. The DVD has also a bug on 92:02 minutes, and the alternative is to go to the next chapter, and return to 92:50 minutes. My vote is six.Title (Brazil): "Monsieur N."