A woman finds herself in physical rehab after a major skiing accident; there she heals from this accident and from her past relationship with her wild ex. Written by Etienne Comar and Maïwenn with the latter directing as well, the story of “Mon Roi” follows a woman going through a good part of her life led by her love and passion for a man who may very well be quite destructive. As she works on being able to walk again, literally and metaphorically, her past is seen through a series of long flashbacks. This is handled in a way that works perfectly here, showing her life basically from the moment she met him and keeping these long flashbacks in chronological order. This actually leads to almost forgetting that the main character is thinking back on these moments until these scenes at the rehabilitation center become longer.
The way the story is built makes it go through time fluidly and close to flawlessly. The lead of Marie-Antoinette, nicknamed Tony, is played with ton s of talent by actress Emmanuelle Bercot. Her performance is fantastic; she gives her character life, appropriate reactions, and nuanced emotions. Almost the entire film rests on her shoulders and she carries it with brio. Playing the object of her affection, her lover, her obsession, Georgio, is Vincent Cassel once again proving he can handle any part. As he is known to do, he takes the part, makes it his, and makes this narcissistic, passionate, bad influence of a man into a character the viewer wants to watch. He takes his highly flawed, easily dislikable man and makes him interesting to follow on screen.
Bercot and Cassel’s performances drive the film and make it resonate even more, working together beautifully. The film has two clearly defined looks: one for the rehabilitation center and one for the flashbacks. The differences are subtle but changes in lighting and a softer focus on some scenes can make all the difference in establishing a timeline or rather a before and after an event for the lead. The cinematography by Claire Mathon frames all of this in a way that clearly defines the periods of Tony’s life as well as specific events. The images always work with Tony’s feelings and emotions, bringing the viewer in and helping them follow along as things evolve.
The music by Stephen Warbeck is sometimes subtle, sometimes less so depending on what each scene requires. His work adds to the scenes without pulling the attention away by being too jarring or out of place which is needed in a film about feelings and emotions that does not force them or its message down the viewer’s throat. Subtlety is a hard balance at times and here it’s obtained throughout the film.
Mon Roi is a film at times quiet and at others quite loud while it builds a sadness that grabs the viewer and pulls them in. The passion the leads have for each other keeps the attention while other emotions develop and join it, showing a depth hard to attain. This is made possible by strong writing and direction with greatly powerful performances that may not seem as such while being watched but their capacity at remaining on the mind shows that clearly. It’s not a feel good film but not a tear-jerker either, it’s a beautiful film that stays with you for a while.
Mon Roi is an effective film with a passion and a bundle of emotions that has the viewer thinking about their own emotions, how they would deal with such a situation, but only after the film is over as the story grabs them and doesn’t let them go until the credits. The myriad of prizes won by the film are well deserved.