Monday, September 22, 2008

Movie Review: The Affair of the Necklace

Based on the true events of the Diamond Necklace Affair, The Affair of the Necklace follows the central woman, and brains of the operation, Jeanne St Remy de Valois as she dupes the Cardinal de Rohan and French monarchy.

This film takes a different perspective of the events of the affair. Perhaps this is because it is from the vantage point of Jeanne. Of course Hilary Swank's Jeanne de la Motte is a modern woman who is strong-willed and is only contriving the affair to reform the family name of Valois to its former dignity. Not only was this portrayal not very convincing to me, it was kind of annoying. Swank went through the motions as a strong-willed hero, rather than the cunning heroine. I felt like the character gives the writers a great opportunity to create a really smart female lead, but failed in this.

The portrayal of Marie Antoinette was new to me. I think one of the appealing aspects of the true Marie Antoinette is that she wasn't a strong-willed queen; she was a naive party-girl who hadn't the opportunity to develope into a ruler in her short reign. The portrayal of her in this movie, as done by the beautiful Joely Richardson, seemed like a stereotyped queen. She was nasty, demanding, and confident (for lack of a better word). It wasn't the Marie Antoinette that we all know and love.

I did like the introduction of Count Nicolas de la Motte, Jeanne's rakish husband, as portrayed by Adrien Brody. His dashing good looks and dandy charm left you fanning yourself. But this quickly diminished leaving me very dissapointed. All of a sudden Nicolas was being bossed around by his adulteropus wife, and you are left wondering why he would put up with it.

Even the Cardinal de Rohan seemed a little more diabolical than the dummy I had always imagined him. In this case, however, I felt that this portrayal was likely more true to form.

Luckily the wardrobe was fabulous. The hats especially stood out to me. Who doesn't like to see a great hat?

Overall, I was disappointed by the main character, and I wasn't sympathetic to her plight, which I think you really need to be in order to fully enjoy the movie. At first I thought I was just biased but my friend Katie, who wasn't as familiar with the true story, felt the same way. I believe that more could have been done with this movie, and it's lack of success proves that others felt the same way.


  1. I hated this movie. I thought Hilary Swank was awful and miscast, and the movie tried to make out her out to be a heroine, when she was really just a schemer. Can't wait to read your review of The Duchess. I went to see it on Friday.

  2. I agree! Unfortunately I wasn't able to see the Duchess Friday as planned because I think it was only showing in NYC and LA. The worst part was I got a pre-screening pass to see it Wednesday and couldn't make it. Supposedly it will be released to the rest of the colonies on October 3rd, I'll be curious to get everyone's review!!

  3. wow the review of that movie went up fast!

  4. Although I mostly hate Affair of the Necklace, I must confess that I actually own a copy of the DVD, and I do rewatch it occasionally. The romance novel reader in me finds it vastly amusing ;p

    I have so much to say about this film, and so much of it is bad...[insert bitchy comments here]...but I'll skip those comments and point out the few aspects I like instead. The supporting cast, who all seem to have realized what a ham job this film is, played accordingly, and are fairly brilliant. Jonathan Pryce, Simon Baker, Adrian Brody, and especially Christopher Walken give such hilarious over-the-top performances that they almost make up for the parts of the film that try to be serious. Joely Richardson makes a very pretty Marie-Antoinette, and given the crap script she had to work with, plays the part as well as she could.

    And then, of course, there are the costumes, which are all kinds of gorgeous. Milena Canonero works her magic once again, although how they ever got her to work on this project I'll never fathom. Did you spot the pieces that got recycled in Marie-Antoinette?

  5. Am I the only one who actually enjoyed The Affair of the Necklace? I definitely thought that Hilary Swank was terribly miscast, but everyone else did a good job. But I'm also pretty forgiving of inaccuracies in historical movies ( save for Henry the VII raping Anne Boleyn in the Other Boleyn Girl). Generally I'm so pleased to see a movie made on a favorite historical person of mine that I'm willing to overlook certain things.

  6. I agree with everything you said except for the part about Marie Antoinette. I thought she did the best she could with the script. Rather then nasty, demanding, and confident, I found her naive, and limited in her world view. She would have to be confident to be a fashion icon and she was obviously very sheltered and not used to people criticizing her to her face. She honestly didn't understand how the world worked. She was my favorite part of the movie.

  7. Ooo I like what everyone has to say. I didn't think MA put out a bad role, I thought it was just an unusual portrayal, and I have no qualms with that. Anon- I like your interpretation of her, you're right we don't actually know how MA's naivety came through in her personality.

  8. Yep, hated it too. I totally agree with Elizabeth Kerri Mahon. However, I think some actors were great, specially the Carinal of Rohan. But I don't think he put that air of naiveté that caused his downfall. Apart from that and the costumes and hats (and locations, too), well, I couldn't stand it.