The 2011 drama “The Princess of Montpensier” from Sundance Selects was directed by Bertrand Tavernier with the screenplay written by Jean Cosmos and Francois-Olivier Rousseau, based on the novel by Madame de la Fayette. Starring: Mélanie Thierry, Gaspard Ulliel, Lambert Wilson, Louis Garrel and Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet.
In a tale of love, romance and the quest for power set in the 16th century, the fate of many young women was decided by their marriage, which was often arranged for fortune and prestige. Under the threat of war in 1562, the heart of young heiress Marie de Mezieres (Melanie Thierry) is broken when she is forced to marry the Prince of Montpensier (Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet), although she has loved Henri The Duc of Guise (Gaspard Ulliel) from childhood. Henri is seen as a hothead; an ambitious ruffian from a Catholic family who would rule the kingdom if it were at all possible.
Marie’s desire to learn to read and write and control her own destiny is brushed aside as trivial, as well as her preference to marry Henri. She meets her furture husband after the arrangements for their wedding have been made. Little more than a business transaction, Marie’s wedding night is carefully monitored by the fathers of the newlyweds with attendants standing by to bring proof of the consummation of the marriage. The very next day, the Prince rides off to war, leaving Marie in the care of a tutor, Comte de Chabannes (Lambert Wilson), to instruct her on matters of attendance at the Royal Court.
Chabannes finds himself falling in love with the princess along with the heir to the throne, the Duc d’Anjou (Raphael Personnaz). But Marie is oblivious to the subtle indications of what is happening around her because her foolish heart remains dedicated to Henri. Amidst the bloodshed and tragedy of war over religious affiliations, what strikes closest to home for Marie are the powerplays enacted by the men around her.
Henri does re-enter Marie’s life, yet at this point it’s clear that he is more in love with the idea of the power their alliance would bring than her as a person. But Marie is determined to decide how her life will be despite all of the opposition she faces. While Chabannes, who is weary of the conflict and intrigue of public life, seeking to retire to the world where dreams can be made real in art and poetry.