Tavernier brings "16th century thriller" to Cannes

Sun May 16, 2010 10:54am EDT
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By James Mackenzie

CANNES, France (Reuters) - Veteran French director Bertrand Tavernier constructs a "16th century thriller" in "La Princesse de Montpensier," a tale of passion, betrayal and vengeance showing at the Cannes film festival.

The picture, based on an austere novella by the 17th century writer Madame de Lafayette, tells the story of a young noblewoman who is forced to renounce the man she loves as a girl when she is married off by her family for political reasons.

Set during the brutal 16th century Wars of Religion between Catholics and Protestants, "La Princesse de Montpensier" shows the young woman, played by Melanie Thierry, buffeted by the forces of reason and the power of her passions.

Covering the same period portrayed in an earlier French film, Patrice Chereau's "La reine Margot," Tavernier creates an action-filled story that recalls the epic intrigue of Alexandre Dumas as much as it does Madame de Lafayette's short text.

The film features muddy battles, torrid love scenes and sumptuous images of the French countryside, but Tavernier said he wanted to avoid "historical reconstructions" and tell a dynamic story based around the emotions of his characters.

"I think there's a tension in the feelings and emotions which come up from time to time, the extreme jealousy, which are the sentiments you find in 'film noir'" Tavernier told reporters after the first press screening.

"In that sense, we made a sort of love thriller from the 16th century," he said.


<p>Cast member Melanie Thierry poses during a photocall for the film "La Princesse de Montpensier" by director Bertrand Tavernier at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival May 16, 2010. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier</p>