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FILMS Italy

Review: Moschettieri del Re

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- Giovanni Veronesi’s new film is a period-costume comedy offering a satirical take on Dumas’ second novel, and featuring an excellent cast in which the star of Pierfrancesco Favino shines bright

Review: Moschettieri del Re
Pierfrancesco Favino in Moschettieri del Re

Hot on the heels of his previous work and box office flop, No Country for the Young [+see also:
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, Giovanni Veronesi has decided to try his hand at period drama.Produced by Indiana and released in cinemas across Italy on 27 December, courtesy of Vision Distribution, Moschettieri del Re [+see also:
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is a sequel of sorts to Dumas’ second novel on the notorious Musketeers - Twenty Years After – and was inspired by some of the period drama greats which have set the standards for Italian-style comedy, including Mario Monicelli’s masterpiece, For Love and Gold, and the cult film Nothing Left to do but Cry by the Roberto Benigni - Massimo Troisi duo. It doesn’t concern itself with replicating the farcical and sophisticated rereading of History offered by the former, nor the pure anarchist comedy of the latter, and the romanticism at the heart of Veronesi’s Moschettieri dissolves at times into a coarse and satirical form of comedy, which the veteran Tuscan director just can’t seem to get away from. But audiences of all kinds will find themselves swept away in the fun that was so very clearly had by the excellent cast of Moschettieri del Re in the making of this film, and it even manages to strike the nostalgic chord sought by the director on the passing of time and the bonds of friendship.

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The idea for the film has been a work in progress since the 80s, when Veronesi imagined four comic actors of the moment, along the lines of Francesco Nuti, Roberto Benigni, Massimo Troisi and Carlo Verdone, in the robes of the musketeers. Ultimately, he opted for Pierfrancesco Favino (D’Artagnan), Valerio Mastandrea (Porthos), Rocco Papaleo (Athos) and Sergio Rubini (Aramis), notably leveraging the extraordinary comic potential of Favino with his noteworthy riding and fencing skills. Favino’s D’Artagnan is an upbeat braggart with a bizarre and unconvincing French accent, who has been reduced to raising pigs and duelling with cuckolded husbands, despite his reportedly suffering from “swordsman’s elbow”. Called back into action (we’re in 1650) by the alcohol-fuelled Queen Anne of Austria (Margherita Buy) in a bid to save France from the plots hatched at Court by the conspirator Cardinal Mazzarino (Alessandro Haber) and the perfidious Milady (Giulia Bevilacqua), D’Artagnan leaves with his not-so-trusty steed Zizou (sharing his name with football great, Zidane) to reassemble his aged and ever so slightly rusty partners in crime: Athos is a bisexual, lascivious castellan, ravaged by syphilis, Aramis a debt-riddled monk and Porthos a glassy-eyed innkeeper who’s on a permanent high from his various laudanum, opium, wild boar tear and dead flower-based concoctions. 

Aided in their feats by an unwavering, mute servant (Lele Vannoli) and the Queen’s extroverted handmaiden, Olimpia (Matilde Gioli), who takes to flirting with D’Artagnan (“my heart is taken but I do have a few other organs available,” he concedes), our heroes ride off in the direction of a secret port to save the future Sun King - the super young and dissolute Louis XIV (Marco Todisco) - and the Huguenots, who are relentlessly persecuted by the sadistic Mazzarino. Our Musketeers are forbidden from uttering those fateful words: “One for all and all for one” because of the disasters which always and inevitably ensue, but this doesn’t stop the four friends from continually walking into ambushes, from which they only manage to escape unharmed thanks to the James Bond-style gadgets provided to them by the Queen.

The action scenes don’t quite live up to those seen in other classic musketeer tales – ranging from the 1921 film featuring Douglas Fairbanks, to Randall Wallace’s 1998 picture, The Man in the Iron Mask, starring Depardieu and DiCaprio – but the photography which comes courtesy of Tani Canevari, the magnificent Lucania locations and the sumptuous costumes designed by Alessandro Lai for Margherita Buy are all, without exception, flawless.

(Translated from Italian)

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