By LindaAnn Loschiavo
“Women marry men hoping they will change. Men marry women hoping they will not. So each is inevitably disappointed,” said Albert Einstein.
This is the basic premise of “Mon Roi” [My King], an emotionally charged French language romantic comedy co-written and directed by Maïwenn. Though the Parisian couple at the heart of the film decides to forego the traditional ring exchange during their marriage ceremony, the narrative reminded me of wedding bands, two distinct circles side by side. The present day “ring” is focused on the heroine, Marie-Antoinette Jézéquel called “Tony” (actress Emmanuelle Bercot) who injures herself while skiing and is sent to a rehab center to learn how to walk again. During six weeks of physical therapy, Tony relives the “ring” she escaped from, a rollercoaster relationship with Georgio Milevski (actor Vincent Cassel), whose handsome face and sparkling joie de vivre captivated her. The orderly rehab facility and the structured exercises Tony must perform are set in stark contrast to the messy love triangle she had been part of, punctuated by highpoints, childbirth, suicide attempts, drugs, and jealous fits.
Despite the flashback structure, the story itself feels organic and immersive, refreshingly uncynical, and not gimmicky.
In Maïwenn’s script you can see some jagged shards from her own life in 2002— 2004 when she was married to the handsome playboy real estate developer Jean-Yves Le Fur. The character Agnès (actress Chrystèle Saint Louis Augustin) was based on fashion model Karen Mulder, Le Fur’s former fiancé, who attempted suicide in 2002.
The sympathetic “scorned woman” character is a universal figure from all walks of life. “Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” confessed Diana, Princess of Wales, whose prince betrayed her. It’s assumed that a screenwriter who names her protagonist after Queen Marie-Antoinette might also show the audience how the lady loses her head.
A trial lawyer, Tony is, however, expected to be level-headed; she is trained to question suspects and look for evidence and ulterior motives. And Georgio, a well-off restaurateur who makes his living by bringing pleasure to other people, is suitably suspicious. When they meet at a loud night club, he is surrounded by young models and fails to recall meeting Tony years before when she bartended, working her way through law school.
After these two make love, the audience half expects Georgio to regard his conquest as another one-night-stand. Instead he announces he wants a child. Except there’s already a “baby” he’s responsible for: Agnes, a drug-addicted ex-girlfriend who won’t let go. Thus the stage is set for fireworks, each bringing their own fuel to keep it going.
As Georgio’s impulsiveness and manipulations keep Tony off-base, so the screenplay is often full of surprises. Though Maïwenn tells the story from the heroine’s point of view, the film unfolds in a caffeinated close-up of two personalities who dominate every frame of the film and whose passion is poised to destroy each other. “Ms. Bercot fearlessly takes her character to the brink of madness,” wrote Stephen Holden in The New York Times.
This motion picture, co-written by Maïwenn and Etienne Comar, had its world premiere at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, where Emmanuelle Bercot won the Best Actress Prize. The film was also nominated for eight César Awards including Best Picture, Actress and Actor. “My King” opened in New York on August 12, and in Los Angeles at Laemmle Royal on August 26, 2016. A national release will follow.
FESTIVALS AND AWARDS
2015 Cannes Film Festival – World Premiere
2015 Cannes Film Festival – Best Actress for Emmanuelle Bercot (tied with Cate Blanchett & Rooney Mara)
2015 Cannes Film Festival – Nominated for a Palme d’Or
2015 Helsinki International Film Festival
2015 Zurich Film Festival
2015 Hamburg Film Festival – Nominated for Critics Award
2015 Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival
2015 Leiden International Film Festival
2016 Göteberg International Film Festival
Tony (Emmanuelle Bercot) is admitted to a rehabilitation center after a serious ski accident. Dependent on the medical staff and pain relievers, she takes time to look back on the turbulent ten-year relationship she experienced with Georgio (Vincent Cassel). Why did they love each other? Who is this man whom she loved so deeply? How did she allow herself to submit to this suffocating and destructive passion? For Tony, a difficult process of healing is in front of her, physical work which may finally set her free.
Georgio Vincent Cassel
Tony Emmanuelle Bercot
Solal Louis Garrel
Babeth Isild Le Besco
Agnès Chrystèle Saint-Louis Augustin
Denis Patrick Raynal
Pascal Paul Hamy
Jean Yann Goven
Djemel Djemel Barek
Marie Marie Guillard
Slim Slim El Hedli
Nabil Nabil Kechouhen
Nico Norman Thavaud
Amanda Amanda Added
Abdel Abdelghani Addala
Producer Alain Attal
Screenplay Maïwenn, Etienne Comar
Photography Claire Mathon
Editing Simon Jacquet
Set Design Dan Weill
Costumes Marité Coutard
Sound Nicolas Provost, Angès Ravez, Matthieu Tertois, Emmanuel Croset
Line Producer Xavier Amblard
Head of Post-production Nicolas Mouchet
First Assistant Director Frédéric Gérard
Unit Production Manager Marc Cohen
Casting Stéphane Batut
Music Stehen Warbeck