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Film review: Mon Roi – Vincent Cassel, Emmanuelle Bercot play tempestuous couple

Powerful performances drive this urgent relationship drama about two lovers who refuse to let go, despite all the evidence suggesting they really should

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 May, 2016, 9:02am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 May, 2016, 9:01am

4/5 stars

In the annals of French cinema, falling in love is like falling off a log. So how on earth do you put a new spin on something that’s been covered every which way? Actress-turned-writer-director Maïwenn may not exactly have solved the conundrum, but there can be no doubt that her fourth film, Mon Roi (My King), feasts on an energy that lifts it above the usual boy-meets-girl tale.

In this case, the boy is handsome restaurateur Giorgio (Vincent Cassel); the girl is the divorced lawyer Tony (Emmanuelle Bercot). Neither are adolescents, nor new to the dating scene, but after meeting in a club, she finds him ideal and intriguing. The story is structured from Tony’s point of view: badly injured after a skiing accident, amid gruelling sessions of physiotherapy, she reflects back on what transpires to be a tumultuous affair.

‘I had a lot of movies to do’: bad-boy French actor Vincent Cassel on new releases Beauty and the Beast, Tale of Tales, and Mon Roi

As Giorgio and Tony’s life together unfolds, Maïwenn and her co-writer Etienne Comar impressively capture the ebb and flow of this love-hate relationship. Tenderness and passion give way to jealousy, recriminations and bitterness, with Tony unable to truly tame the beast inside Cassel(it doesn’t help that he’s still attached to his needy ex-girlfriend).

Bercot rightly won a share of the best actress prize at Cannes for her performance, but Cassel is just as deserving of the accolades in his ferocious turn. Even with the rather excessive 128-minute run time, these two keep you hooked until the end. For Maïwenn, injecting real urgency into an age-old subject, it’s a real feather in her cap.

Mon Roi opens on May 19

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