Jeanne DuBarry – The King’s Favorite, the perfect return of Johnny Depp

Jeanne du Barry is the king’s favorite. This is not just the title of the film, but an expression of an obsolete title that the real Jeanne could boast of, maîtresse-en-titre, especially if it was the last and perhaps the most influential in the history of the French court. Why yes, the main character described in the author’s last film Maiwenn (just released in theaters), director and character interpreter, real revolutionary, able to go against the absurdity of French royal life and conquer the king thanks to his diversity. The work tells a story social redemption: She is the illegitimate daughter of a monk and a cook, she has more than modest origins, a far from happy childhood, consisting of monasteries, moving and uncertainty. As in the most classic stories, hunger is the fuel for ambition: Joan quickly learns to make the most of her charm, to master her body, developing a genuine careerism that will lead her to the court of Louis XV. Joan’s authenticity is a point diametrically opposed to the classism of the French aristocracy, composed of ridiculous protocols and absurd rules of behavior, difficult to digest even for the king himself. The meeting between them would provide the right opportunity to overthrow palace habits, facing the dissent of His Majesty’s daughters and senior members of the royal family, finding instead strong support in La Borde, the king’s aide and friend, the one who would teach Joan how to behave and survive at court, much the same way Nigel did with Andy The Devil Wears Prada.

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Maiwenn’s film, which opened the Cannes Film Festival last May, is well made, although it is not intensely paced, is almost never verbose, the timing is clearly marked in accordance with court habits, always suited to an atmosphere of extreme calm. The happiest note can only be the return of Johnny Depp, who knows how to wear Louis’ crown. The American actor gives a superb performance despite the difficulties encountered on set with the director and co-star, who deserves credit for being the first to believe in him again, despite admitting that working together was difficult. The complexity of her nature explains the figure of the favorite, the official mistress of the king, who was not at all a secret – an established habit, the tradition of which Louis XV took to heart, replacing no less than fourteen women during his existence. A social rise and a deep fall from grace, two constructive hours to learn about distant history that is well offered today.

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