I watched the 145 minute cut demanded by Miramax, not the 161 version originally shown in Cannes, although I wonder if the extra time would have been able to reveal some sense behind the bonkers characters and the freewheeling zig-zagging decisions they make throughout. Instead of an explanation, what we get is an awful lot of desperate flailing, sighing and crying. The impression conveyed is that everyone in the Louvre is so blinded by passion that they can barely stand up straight, let alone think in a linear or logical way. Two sworn enemies fight each other to the ground, and upon being reunited become sworn brothers in a fit of clutching breasts and kisses. Margot is a bit of a skank, airily flicking through the man-flesh that has congregated for her forced marriage, but just one night of random boinking is enough to change a habit of a lifetime (although she does sleep with Henri, it's to keep the palace quiet, she remains devoted to La Môle). And as for the scheming Catherine de' Medici – swear down she's the most useless Machiavellian plotter I have ever seen. One wonders why she bothers with poisons in lipstick and books when it seems like the entire palace is ready to do her bidding. What's the point of this ridiculous subterfuge (which, btw, keeps failing!) when you've got men ready to stab your enemies into the walls with no questions asked?
But these, frankly, are stupid questions. The important thing is that the film looks LUSH. You don't come to this for insights into the machinations of power or the clash of rival faiths. You come for the outfits! All the actors are perfectly cast in their roles. Isabelle Adjani is like the Snow White who can never be banished away by her wicked mother. Daniel Auteuil's face twitches manically as if he's trying to tip-toe around a pride of ravenous lions. Vincent Pérez is suitably scrumptious as the pretty but dim young whippersnapper. And Pascal Greggory is a walking wave of dark glowering charisma. No expense was spared on the sets and locations either – it's like you're in an oil painting all the time. And the camera swirls around it all, bouncing off looks and nods among the crowds of courtiers, sweeping you along despite the nonsensical intrigue. It's gorgeous. Just don't try to think about it too much.