Thursday, April 19, 2007

Monsieur N.

Posted on Thu, Apr 19, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Monsieur N.
Studio: Empire Pictures/First Run Features
WorkNameSort: Monsieur N.
Unsure whether it wants to be a piece of revisionist history or a period-piece romance, Monsieur N. nonetheless poses an interesting question: What if Napoleon had escaped from his exile in St. Helena? Intrigue swirls furiously around Monsieur N., but the glassy glare of actor Philippe Torreton never takes it all in, leaving much of the tale-telling to the guard who is assigned to him. Naturally, said guard spins wild tales of possibility, but when his focus turns to his own romance, the film jumps way off track. With so much potential material to mine (as Alan Taylor did in 2001's The Emperor's New Clothes), it's disappointing that director Antoine de Caunes heaves the dramatic thrust of the film onto people outside Bonaparte's cell. The gorgeous set pieces and generally dark tone of the film make for a compelling film, but one that doesn't live up to its potential.

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