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Click for full sized poster

Triumph of Love

Starring Mira Sorvino, Fiona Shaw, Jay Rodan, Rachael Stirling, Ignazio Oliva, Luis Molteni and Ben Kingsley
Written and Directed by Clare Peploe
Based on the play by Pierre Marivaux as adapted by Martin Crimp and staged at the Almeida Theatre Company, London
website: www.paramountclassics.com

IN SHORT: one big fat farce of a romantic comedy only slightly distracting by a wee bit of artsy fartsyness.. [Rated PG-13 for some nudity and sensuality. 107 minutes]

There is in France a large estate, perhaps the size of a small (united) state like Rhode Island, made more like that island by its utter isolation and lack of population. On this great estate lives the philospoher Hermocrates (Ben Kingsley), his spinster sister Leontine (Fiona Shaw), and the rightful King of the land, totally unaware of his lineage, Agis (Jay Rodan). Living blissfully in isolation, Hermocrates basks in the isolation of his Fame for he, in this period in an Age when society has broken free of the bonds of the Church, argues that the rational mind must make do without love or passion. His philosophical papers and fame stretch wide across the land, and bring to his gates the student Aspasie, who seeks to learn at the feet of the Master. While the brother isn't watching, the stranger simultaneously seduces Leontine with words so sweet that her heart breaks upon hearing them. Of course he does. He's a she.

The true goal of the mysterious stranger, the daughter of the deceased usurper King and now Princess (Mira Sorvino) is the rightful King, Agis who, once upon a time, she saw as naked as the day he was born, as he stepped out of a pond. If the daughter of the usurper manages to make the rightful ruler fall in love with her, even as his protectors are falling in love with her (or "him"), all will be right in the Kingdom. Yes, that reads confusing as hell but trust us, it all makes sense on the big screen.

Triumph of Love is a royal farce in any capitalization of the word "royal," even more remarkable that something written in the 18th century (first staged in --1732--) stands up as well as it does in the 21st. Except for the fact that, when all is said and done, the cast breaks out into a rousing French-language number, forms an encore line and accepts the well earned adulations of the present day audience that has been watching a play all the damned time. Note to French filmmakers: it is time to let the artsy fartsy stuff go the way of illuminated manuscripts. There's a valid concept called suspension of disbelief that is engaged every time we put down money for a movie ticket. Just go with it. Don't be so damned clever.

Then again, irrationality is at the heart of Triumph of Love, so we'll let some other critic make the arguments for screwing with perceptions and suggest that those of you who favor the arthouse seek this one out. Everybody else, wait and rent.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Triumph of Love, he would have paid . . .

$5.00

 

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