1832. Provence is gripped by cholera. Angelo (Martinez), a hussar, flees Austrian assassins determined to stamp out exiled Italian revolutionaries. Although he attempts to help victims with know-how garnered from a doctor, he's almost lynched as a suspected water-poisoner. To cap it all, he meets mysterious Pauline de Théus (Binoche), a woman so brave and loyal that she's prepared to travel the ravaged land alone in search of her husband. The entranced Angelo insists on delaying his return to Italy to accompany her on the quest. But is there hope? Rappeneau's follow-up to Cyrano de Bergerac is a sumptuous costumer adapted from another literary favourite (one of Jean Giono's 'Hussar' novels). He avoids the static pictorialism that afflicts most heritage movies by focusing on dynamic action and using a speedy, kinetic camera and cutting style. Sadly, however, this runs the risk of turning what is clearly intended to be a serious romance into a lusty romp. Binoche's customary gravitas lends the proceedings some emotional depth, while Martinez makes for a handsome, energetic hero. The Provençal villages and landscapes look good (as usual), but in the end there's not enough development, thematic or otherwise, to sustain interest.
Cast and crew
Jean-Paul Rappeneau, Nina Companeez, Jean-Claude Carrière
Olivier Martinez Juliette Binoche Claudio Amendola Pierre Arditi Isabelle Carré François Cluzet Jean Yanne Gérard Depardieu