Centred on the intrigues leading up to and following the St Bartholomew's Day Massacre of 1572, this historical drama begins with the arranged, loveless wedding of the Roman Catholic Marguerite de Valois (Adjani) - sister to eccentric King Charles IX (Anglade), daughter of the scheming Catherine de Medici - and the Huguenot Henri de Navarre (Auteuil). Despite Catherine's hope that the marriage may unite France, the mutual hatred felt by Catholics and Protestants soon degenerates into carnage; and Margot, who has learned to tolerate her husband while falling for young Huguenot La Môle (Perez), finds herself caught in a deadly trap. Chéreau's film is a fast-moving and savagely ironic yarn. It's also visceral, with a high gore-factor, a pervasive whiff of filth, and a compelling percussive score. The performances are top-notch, while the dark, rich photography is painterly but never lifeless.