Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Of Sharp Thrusts and Just Deserts

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Of Sharp Thrusts and Just Deserts

Article excerpt

"RIDICULE" Rating: R, sexual situations. Running time: 1:42.

AT the 18th-century court of King Louis XVI, battles of wit could turn out to be as deadly as swordfights.

Decadence was at its peak at Versailles in 1783, six years before the French Revolution was to sweep the court away. The king, surrounded by bewigged courtiers, courtesans crammed into dresses shaped like hourglasses and all-too-worldly clerics, sat in judgment at the center of a highly artificial little solar system. Skill at the art of insult was all important. "Ridicule" is a fascinating French film that is set at that court. It combines clever historical satire with a love story and a moral fable. Ponceludon de Malavoy (Charles Berling), a provincial engineer and landowner, wants royal help to drain swamps that threaten the health of peasants. He goes to Versailles, hoping to use logic and an appeal to humanity to persuade King Louis to fund the project. Malavoy is taken in hand by a veteran of the court, a marquis (Jean Roch efort), who explains to him that the only way to gain the approval of the king is to amuse him with flourishes of verbal wit. …

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