A Little Chaos
Director: Alan Rickman
Writer: Alan Rickman, Alison Deegan, Jeremy Brock
Cast: Kate Winslet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Helen McCrory, Alan Rickman, Jennifer Ehle, Stanley Tucci, Rupert Penry-Jones, Steven Waddington, Pauline Moran
Seen on: 05.05.2015
Sabine de Barra (Kate Winslet) is a well-established gardener who gets invited to present her plans for a piece of the Versaille gardens to André le Nôtre (Matthias Schoenaerts). Le Nôtre is irritated by Sabine’s lack of order, but decides to work with her anyway, even though his esteem in King Louis XIV‘s (Alan Rickman) eyes and his general reputation depend on the success of the gardens. The tension between Sabine and André soon spills from a professional to a more personal level, much to the disdain of André’s wife (Helen McCrory).
A Little Chaos is a film that would proabbly be classically considered a women’s film (not that there isn’t something for the guys there as well) and it’s a beautiful entry in that (if you will) genre, even though it’s a little heavyhanded sometimes.
I don’t usually like separating films into “women’s films” and “men’s films”. For one, I appreciate men’s films too much myself to let that stand, but that’s only the beginning of the argument against it, though I do believe that female* and male* filmmakers bring a certain outlook to their films usually. But this film was so focused on the women and brought a certain aesthetic with it that it feels like it was made mostly with women in mind. And I can appreciate that, especially since it was made by a man.
It starts with the fact that they invented Sabine de Barra to be able to tell a story where a woman in an historic setting not only has a successful career but the very fact that she’s different from all the men around her makes her so important for the project. [There certainly were women like that back then as well who would have achieved great things if they had half a chance to do so, and some very few women who actually did.] And it ends with the beautiful scene when Sabine visits with the women at court, where in a single scene you get so many different ways women relate to each other, and all positively, where they share their lives and solidarize, and where it becomes obvious what the men’s world outside of this women’s circle is so desperately lacking.
But not only that was beautifully done, I generally loved the script and the film that took its time to give all characters, even the smaller supporting roles, a personality. Nobody in this script is just there to deliver a line and leave: we get at least a bit of a glimpse into what makes them tick first. Which is of course helped by the wonderful cast who bring those characters to life, with Kate Winslet being a particular stand-out, as usual.
The script is not without its cheesy moments and sometimes it could have done with a bit more subtlety. But that didn’t take away one bit from my enjoyment of it.