As conflict rages between Catholics and Huguenots in sixteenth-century France, a marriage of convenience strengthens bonds between two aristocratic families while denying Marie (Mélanie Thierry) the chance of hooking up with debonair Henri de Guise (Gaspard Ulliel). And as she assumes spousal duties as the Princess of Montpensier, her timid prince (Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet) has his learned liege (Lambert Wilson) introduce her to the world of des beaux arts. Bertrand Tavernier’s lavish, straight-arrow take on the novel by Madame de La Fayette is weighed down by period cliché – the usual array of duels, masque balls, simpering husbands and battlefield heroism – but it functions swimmingly as an ambiguous study of wrongly diverted passions. Tavernier tells the (potentially confusing) story cleanly and draws committed performances from his predominantly youthful cast. But it’s his choice not to trade in simple shades of good and evil that keep the actions of his characters so compelling, up to (and beyond) its melancholy kiss-off.