Picoreview: A Little Chaos: Entirely fictional, but charming.
I mean, entirely fictional: Kate Winslet’s character is an invention, no one like her existed at all, and…I wish they wouldn’t do that. It’s like Disney’s Pocahontas: why drop a couple of historical names on top of characters who live lives completely unlike the real story?
The answer, obviously, is because people recognise names like Pocahontas and Versailles and King Louis, which establishes the story, but…look, Belle was not an entirely accurate telling of Dido Elizabeth Belle, but it gets her story right in broad strokes. Similarly with Carrington (which, if you haven’t seen it, you ought to), both of which prompted me to go look up the real people and learn more about them. Which is what I cheerfully set out to do having watched A Little Chaos, because woman gardener in the court of King Louis XIV!
Except no, she’s completely fictional, and if you invent your main character and thrust her into the middle of a nominally real historical court and a you’re…I don’t know. Telling lies. Which is a silly thing to be offended by in a movie (and I didn’t know until after seeing it that Alan Rickman, who directed it, has been entirely frank about it being, as he said, “deeply historically inaccurate”), but it still irritates me.
None of which has anything to do with the general charm of the movie, which is, in fact, generally charming. Kate Winslet has a backstory that’s a little heavy-handed, and Matthias Schoenaerts, who plays the male lead, has one that’s a little too obscured, but Winslet (who looks gloriously un-made-up) brings her usual appealing steadiness to the character and Schoenaerts has a sort of restrained smoldering thing going on. I rather liked them together, although there were a couple of moments when I did wonder if Winslet was going to run off and have an affair with Alan Rickman’s Louis, whom he played as one of his soft-underbelly sorts, which, er, you know, works for me. :) There are several smaller roles that are especially well played. In fact, I could probably have watched an entire movie about the interactions of the secondary characters. :)
So overall I enjoyed it quite a bit and didn’t get annoyed until I found out after the fact that it was entirely fictional, which I’m sure wouldn’t have bothered me at all if I’d known it beforehand.