“Officially, the festival has begun,” said Michael Douglas, who is celebrated in this session, after he gave a speech in which he talked about those who influenced his character among the actors (Karl Malden and his father Kirk Douglas) and his history as an actor and producer. He added that the announcement of the beginning of the festival was not planned at that moment, as there were still some paragraphs that were not presented. He was also not authorized, according to sources, to launch this advertisement, but he donated it, appealing to enhance his presence.
She shared with him standing on the big stage, actress Catherine Deneuve, who is 80 years old, and making efforts to embody about 60 years of acting. Douglas (79 years old) and Deneuve appeared as if they were on a visit from history to a festival that always combines the past and the present, each with its manifestations.
In any case, the pre-opening for the opening film was good, disciplined, and full of spectators in the two large halls. The first includes invitees from the film industry around the world, and the second includes critics, journalists and those who know how to enter.
This was followed by the opening film, “Jeanne Du Barry”, directed by Mayonne and co-starring Johnny Depp as King Henry XV.
Immediately after the name of the French production company (Why Not), the name “The Red Sea Festival” appears as the first contributor to the production of this historical film. This appearance is, in fact, an announcement of an important presence for a serious Saudi institution in the field of occupying its well-deserved position among major institutions as an event, as a festival, and as an entity looking to cooperate in financing films of value.
Jean du Barry recounts two stages in the life of King Henry XV’s last mistress. The first one passes quickly and represents her young upbringing and early youth. The second begins with Jeanne infiltrating the lives of influential French notables and receiving an invitation from King Henry to visit him. Hence how King Henry XV took her as his mistress, who belonged to a poor and uneducated social environment. Perhaps the fact that she comes from outside the royal circle and the velvety society was, as the film suggests, an element of the king’s affection for her. Watched it and liked it. She hadn’t learned the usual palace rules and guidelines in the presence of the king, but he didn’t care.
The film continues the story of what happened at the French court in the famous Palace of Versailles when the king’s daughters (who had ex-wives who came from a higher social background) rejected Jean de Barry’s presence and gained the attention and love of the king.
The film is productively busy in an attractive way, containing a comprehensive review of all the details of the period, the designs of the place, the clothes, and everything that belongs to the picture chronologically. It also records the fact that it was filmed in the same places of events to a large extent. This means using the Palace of Versailles from the outside, with its vast spaces, and from the inside, with its large halls and luxurious rooms. Director Mayoon knows her job when it comes to directing scenes individually, and knows how to achieve an attention-grabbing film that plays on the screen as a historical work and a biopic in balance.
Moreover, this success is witnessed in terms of artistic workmanship and production that impresses with its accuracy and richness of its visuals more than what is mature in terms of drama, which it presents as if it lost its purpose, oscillating between telling a life story and telling a general story.
There are, for example, long scenes revolving around the issue of the king’s daughters refusing his infatuation with a commoner woman, without a cultural or social level, and the pain that this refusal resulted in in the chest of Jean de Barry until (after several scenes of repetition of this refusal) they accept her. suddenly. The tale deviates slightly when a young African boy is introduced, whom Du Barry takes an interest in despite the cynicism and racism of the royal daughters towards him. This also seems to be a bump in the body of the story, if only for a while. A model passes by to leave a comment and then proceeds.
Dedicating lengthy scenes to the daughters of the king and their position towards Du Barry in the first place, reveals a scenario that searches for itself for a dramatic fulcrum. The film is artistically preoccupied with the laws of the historical film, and it was made with full knowledge of the technical and decorative details and all the delicate designs. Director Mayoun’s talent shines in many scenes that require skill and skill in using scenes to express different time periods. The beginning alone is promising before the work abandons the desire to tell a story that is not devoid of a conflict over its identity between being a story of life and a story of history.
Mayon’s desire for her presence to prevail in the film left little of what Johnny Depp could do, despite the importance of his role and the presence of emotional moments that enhance his presence. But what does not exist is enabling the actor to crystallize, albeit limited, his personality and role that rises to the level of that of Mayon. His presence is more physical than dramatic. There is a reflection of the insides of a supporting character, who is the personality of the king’s affairs manager, La Bourde (Benjamin Lavergne), more than what the director gave to the king’s character, who had to play a parallel role in order for the story to deepen rather than remain a narrative.
As for an actress Mayonne, historical sources indicate that the beauty of Jean de Barry was dazzling, which gave her the ability to attract men to her and move from ease and poverty to socializing with the nobility and reaching Henry XV himself. If this is true, and we don’t mind it being so, actress Mayoon’s beauty is not of the same kind. The problem is that Mayon is a talented actress who is able to carry such a big movie effortlessly as a diagnosis and presence, but there remains that doubt when comparing her beauty to the beauty of the character she originally plays, which leaves an unpleasant break.
Three actresses played this same role in the past, and each of them was more beautiful as features of Mayonne: Paula Negri in “Passion” by the German Ernst Lubitsch (1919), Dolores del Rio in “Madame de Barry” by William Dieterle (1934), and Asia Argento in the movie Sofia Coppola “Marie Antoinette” (2006). The latter depicted the conflict between Queen Marie Antoinette (played by Kirsten Dunst) and Du Barry.
The two films are equivalent in some aspects, but if we take the two works completely, “Jean de Barry” is a better work, especially in terms of the historical period and the multiple characters of the film, as well as the film itself, sincerity and aesthetic quality of the work as a whole.
Welcome Johnny Depp
What the actress Mayon replaces is her devotion to a project that she sought with all her heart, and then she represented it with humility that suits the character’s sources. Perhaps she aimed to seize the heroism, and perhaps she is not as beautiful as Du Barry herself, but the film, in the end, is about a woman who loved her “king” (as she called him) and was loyal to him, and for that she did not try to appear as anything other than what she proposes. There are no scenes imbued with the desire for importance, nor those shots that belong to her alone, except in those necessary places. In addition, reducing the stages of Du Barry’s life to two, short and quick, and others that occupy most of the film, is a good deed by a director who realizes that the best way is to focus on the most important period, which is the one she spent with the king for six years until his death.
In addition, Mayon did well to move away from fantasy in her treatment of the story. She could have achieved a film that manipulates the viewer visually and deviates from reality dramatically, but she refused to do so and took serious action despite the aforementioned pitfalls. In addition, the emotional scenes come true and conservative. Another movie, in the hands of another director, would have exploited what could be exploited for sex scenes to fuel Sahel effect.
And Mayon, a director, did well to stay away from fantasy in her treatment of the story. She could have achieved a movie that manipulates the viewer visually and deviates from reality dramatically, but she refused to do so and took serious action despite the aforementioned pitfalls.
While it was not possible for Johnny Depp to play the required role in the story, his reception by the audience before entering the showroom was full. The camera accompanied him as he signed pages and gave everyone the opportunity to take a “selfie” with them, smiling and calm.
A few days before his arrival, an attempt was made to extract that audience from him and criticize his presence and reception because of the court that occupied public opinion and the media months ago, according to a case brought against him by his ex-wife, actress Amber Hurd.
The French media picked up the banner and expanded the circle of criticism against Deeb. All of this was fueled by protest messages criticizing the festival’s reception of the actor.
Of course, Johnny Depp was not aware of which of the parties would affect his presence more. Critics, protesters or the public who rallied to welcome him. But he used the occasion well in his favor before entering the large exhibition hall and sat in his designated seat with the film team, following with interest.
When the film ended, the audience in the Great Hall burst into applause. They stood up to salute and he in turn turned to them with a smile and tearful eyes. After the ordeal that almost befell him, he witnesses renewed confidence in him, a situation that cannot be erased from his memory.