‘A Little Chaos’ is, you imagine, what Alan Titchmarsh might dream about after watching ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’.
Kate Winslet plays a pioneering seventeenth-century gardener in the French court of Louis XIV, and she’s the best thing about the film. Wearing a corset so tight that it’s a miracle she can breathe, let alone act, she gives an emotionally switched-on performance as Sabine de Barra, a woman with nothing to lose after the death of her husband and daughter. Scandalising the court, she applies for a job with André le Nôtre (Matthias Schoenaerts), the real-life landscape architect behind the Gardens of Versailles.
Sabine, bosom heaving, bonds with André over the begonias. But the usually excellent Schoenaerts is a big letdown, doing what can only be described as dead-fish acting while sporting a career-killing, straggly haircut. To be fair, he does have to work with some hilarious dialogue: ‘Your heart beats furiously, mine just ticks’. Helen McCrory gives ‘House of Cards’ First Lady Claire Underwood a run for her money in the ruthless-bitch stakes as his viper of a wife, while Alan Rickman, also directing, is as dry as a desert in a drought as Louis.