email print share on Facebook share on Twitter share on LinkedIn share on reddit pin on Pinterest

FILMS / REVIEWS France / Belgium

Review: The Count of Monte-Cristo

by 

- Pierre Niney imposes himself in the lead role of Alexandre Dumas’ great literary classic, spectacularly revisited by Matthieu Delaporte and Alexandre de la Patellière

Review: The Count of Monte-Cristo
Pierre Niney in The Count of Monte-Cristo

"We’ll take as much time as we need to take revenge. We’ll rip their hearts out". Betrayal, injustice, many long years of imprisonment in deepest isolation, great mental and physical anguish, an array of fatal or liberatory secrets, escape and rebirth, masks and methodical preparations for a dreadful kind of revenge… Published in 1844, Alexandre Dumas’ novel, The Count of Monte-Cristo, has all the ingredients necessary for a poignant tragedy teeming with thrilling twists, and has already inspired numerous film adaptations.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

But an excellent story will always be an excellent story, and the French screenwriting-directorial duo Matthieu Delaporte and Alexandre de la Patellière have likewise decided to embark upon this particular adventure, on the wings of Pathé’s strategy aimed at bringing about a revival in France of great, spectacular, mainstream cinema rooted in the country’s literary and historical heritage (a movement initiated last year via Martin Bourboulon’s diptych The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
– written by Delaporte and de la Patellière – and continued via the two-parter De Gaulle on which Antonin Baudry is currently wrapping filming). But it’s a far from easy task, in this particular instance, given the richness and complexity of the book’s original plot, which the present film, The Count of Monte-Cristo [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
- unveiled out of competition in the 77th Cannes Film Festival and due for release in French cinemas on 28 June - conveys in a high-quality, classical, mainstream style, making for a largely brilliant 2-hour-and-58-minute movie.

The film owes much of its success to the quality of its actors (Pierre Niney plays the titular role), not to mention some pretty bold changes when adapting the novel (new characters, previously non-existent ties forged between certain protagonists, different social backgrounds, etc.), which strengthen and modernise the dramaturgy without ever losing sight of its crux: a man who’s hastened to his grave ("you know things people don’t want to hear") by three circumstantial allies (the wonderful Bastien Bouillon, Patrick Mille and Laurent Lafitte) and who returns in a different guise (or even multiple guises), almost 22 years later, in order to exact revenge.

The story begins in 1815 under the blue skies of Marseille, when life seems to be smiling upon Edmond Dantès (Niney), who’s on the verge of marrying Mercedes (Anaïs Demoustier). But his hidden enemies unfairly and unjustifiably throw into a dungeon without trial, in the Château d’If, where he languishes for 16 years before eventually escaping; because, after years of lonely despair, this young man binds his fate to a prisoner (and tunnel-digger) in a neighbouring cell, Reverand Faria (Pierfrancesco Favino), who provides him with weapons (namely a goal, knowledge, fabulous treasure to seek out, and a strategy to escape the sea-based fortress) so that he may rediscover freedom and exact cruel revenge on those who betrayed him.

By placing emphasis on the darkness which slowly takes hold of our hero, whose legitimate thirst for revenge sees him consumed by hate and a shrivelled heart, the directors make fascinating use of contrasts, providing Pierre Niney with an opportunity to showcase the many different sides of his talent, with which he’s never failed to surprise us throughout his career. He’s a diamond at the heart of this pleasing and luxurious super-production adventure, whose few faults (strange shortcuts, somewhat intrusive music, needlessly ostentatious shots via drone) fail to detract from the qualities of this film, which more than fulfils its mission to be a high-quality, mainstream movie.

The Count of Monte-Cristo is produced by Chapter 2 in co-production with Pathé (who are managing international sales), M6 Films, Fargo Films, Logical Pictures Ventures and Belgian firm Umedia.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

(Translated from French)

Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.

Privacy Policy