Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres from writer/director Maiwenn and Vertical is the story of a woman in a country of few choices when your JEANNE DU BARRY.

Jeanne (Maiwenn) is a young woman in 1700’s France who is the daughter of a house maid. Taken in by a Roch-Claude Billard (Robin Renucci), she is taught to read and think for herself. Getting away from those who would tell her what to do and how to behave, Jeanne finds herself as a courtesan under Guillaume du Barry (Melvil Poupaud). It is Louis Francois, the Duke of Richelieu (Pierre Richard) who pushes to introduce Jeanne to King Louis XV (Johnny Depp).

In a planned meeting at Versailles, King Louis sees Jeanne and is intrigued by her presence. Jeanne is then visited by Jean-Benjamin de La Borde (Benjamin Lavernhe) who informs her that she is going to meet the King and what the rules are in his presence. Jeanne and the King meet and there is an instant spark between them as she quickly becomes the King’s favorite, much to the dismay of his daughters Adelaide (India Hair), Victoire (Suzanne de Baecque), Sophie (Laura Le Velly) and Louise (Capucine Valmary).

The only person that seems to be happy for the King is the Dauphin (Diego Le Fur) who sees the mistreatment by the court toward Jeanne. Adelaide decides to spread her dislike through to the Dauphin’s intended Marie Antoinette (Pauline Pollmann). The King begins to see what is happening to Jeanne and lavishes her with a place where they can be away from the court and the young Zamor (Djibril Djimo).

Being watched over by La Borde, Jeanne is still fighting for survival in a place that doesn’t see her as anything more than a nuisance during a time when the people of France are starting to resent those in power. As the King falls ill, Jeanne tries to be of comfort but her life is about to come full circle.

Maiwenn as Jeanne comes across for so many reasons. she is just so lovely without adding anything to her appearance which charmed me all the more. Allowing her performance to shine, she made it look so effortless. Jeanne is a woman of her times doing what it takes to survive in a world that doesn’t see her. Instead, as a grown woman, Maiwenn makes it clear that she may have to give and take in the matter of her survival but don’t try and take control away from her. Once in the company of the King, Maiwenn gives Jeanne charm, grace, and never once changes because it is just not who she is. The relationship between Jeanne and the King becomes one that is always in flux – until it isn’t.

Depp as the King seems to have no time for the goings on around him, at least that’s what his facial expressions seem to show. Meeting Jeanne is a breath of fresh air and a chance to be equally as charming if not entertaining. As much as the King’s family want Jeanne gone, the King knows what he wants and Jeanne brings it naturally. Depp is truly fascinating to watch as his role is more watchful than a lot of royal talk. I must admit I was moved by his portrayal in many scenes but truly expected nothing more than his best and not disappointed in the slightest. Yes, he does speak French but then again, he did in his film THE NINTH GATE as well.

Lavernhe as La Borde is emotional, funny even if he doesn’t mean to be and a true friend to the King. Watching him attempt to train Jeanne to court life I knew wasn’t going to be easy but Lavernhe’s portrayal of La Borde makes it entertaining to watch. As the film progresses, it is clear that whatever La Borde’s first impressions of Jeanne were, at the end he is a man with a beautiful heart. I enjoyed Lavernhe’s portrayal of a man who is doing is best with a woman who knows who she is and his uncomfortability is often tested.

Djimo as Zamor is a young man who is given to Jeanne by the King but he is not from France. She raises and loves the young boy but there will come a time where he must decide his own future fate. Le Fur as the Dauphin sees that Jeanne makes his father happy and also sees that family and the court are making life difficult for her. He will also come to a point in his life where the world will change.

Other cast include Gregoire Oestermann as Abbot Louis-Nicolas Maudoux, Patrick d’Assumcao as Etienne Francois, duc de Choiseul, Marianne Basler as Anne Becu, Noemie Lvovsky as Countess Anne de Noailles, and Micha Lescot as Florimond Claude.

Vertical Entertainment is a global independent distributor that offers a unique wealth of experience minus the studio costs. They have won a Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Actress for Molly Shannon’s role in OTHER PEOPLE and the film won a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Film Limited Release, Best International Film for Babak Anvari’s UNDER THE SHADOW, a BAFTA and three Independent British Independent Film Awards as well.

JEANNE DU BARRY was the Official Selection in 2023 at the Cannes Film Festival, 2023 nominee for the Golden Tower, Best Film at the Palic Film Festival and nominated for Best Costume Design and Best Production Design by Cesar Awards in France.

Director/writer Maiwenn says of her film and role in JEANNE DU BARRY, “It started when I saw Sofia Coppola’s MARIE ANTOINETTE in 2006. As soon as Jeanne appeared on screen, I was fascinated by her character, played by Asia Argento. I immediately felt a strong connection with her and missed her as soon as she wasn’t on the screen. I fell in love with her and her era. I immersed myself in a detailed biography of her and felt the need to make a film about her right then.”

Her love affair with Jeanne clearly shows starting with letting the viewer know a bit of her history. As one who is fascinated with people in history, I also was interested in Jeanne. What Maiwenn does is dive right into her story and make it plain that there are no excuses for how this woman chose to live her life and I’m all about it. Adding a dash of Depp to the mix and giving him a crown was equally incredible. There was more on this actor’s character than needed to be spoken out loud, until he truly needed to.

As someone who absolutely adores period films, the production on this film is lavish, opulent and the Hall of Mirrors is just as stunning as I would ever have imagined. The costuming is stunning and gives every thread of the upper-class dress, wigs, jewelry etc. This film is definitely one that I will watch again and again. Maiwenn is a genius and I said what I said!

In the end – from illegitimacy to having the love of a King!



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About the Author

Jeri Jacquin

Jeri Jacquin covers film, television, DVD/Bluray releases, celebrity interviews, festivals and all things entertainment.