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A Little ChaosA Little Chaos
IMDB Rating : 6.8
IMDB Votes : 273
User Reviews : 1
Date Released : 17 April 2015
Run Time : 116 min
Movie Genre : Comedy, Drama, Romance
Movie Director : Alan Rickman
Movie Writer : Jeremy Brock, Alison Deegan
Movie Stars : Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman, Stanley Tucci, Matthias Schoenaerts

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A Little Chaos Madame Sabine De Barra is an unlikely candidate for the landscape architect of the still-to-be-completed palace of Versailles. She has little time for the classical ordered designs of the man who hires her; the famous architect Le Notre. However, as she works on her creation, she finds herself drawn to the enigmatic Le Notre and forced to negotiate the perilous rivalries and intricate etiquette of the court of King Louis XIV. But Sabine is made of strong stuff; her honesty and compassionate nature help to overcome both the challenges of her newfound popularity, and an unspeakable tragedy from her past, to win the favour of the Sun King and the heart of Le Notre.

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Winslet Wobbles But She Don't Fall Down!

It was Alan Rickman's birthday. February, twenty-first, two-thousand-fifteen. The art-house GFT cinema in Glasgow had devoted the entirety of cinema 1 to premiere his second directorial feature 'A Little Chaos'. Rickman fans clutching beloved memories of Snape, The Sheriff of Nottingham and Hans Gruber, among devotees of his "art" films thronged the auditorium. Rickman came out to ask that the audience put all thoughts of historical inaccuracy from our minds and enjoy his film.

What followed was a slight tale, painterly but meaner with colours and longueurs than Peter Greenaway. In fact, with the plot of Kate Winslet's architect Sabine being hired to design an elaborate feature of Louis XIV's Versaille with all concomitant trials and tribulations, this could have been a Tarantino-esque chimera tribute to Greenaway.

However this was something else. With a hero increasingly willing to sacrifice herself in more dangerous situations in order to secure a building, this was Die Hard in pompadours and corsets. With a lowly individual championing the cause of revolutionary ideas in the face of manipulative local powers and one particularly scheming higher-up, this was Robin Hood with a set square. With ghostly memories of a bygone tragedy arresting the hero's progress this was 'Truly, Madly Deeply' in powdered wigs. This was more of a Rickman greatest hits package than he may have presumed.

However, Rickman dismissed questions, in the follow-up q&a in Glasgow (when he could understand questions delivered in none too heavy a "too Scottish" accent), about the blockbusters his fans cherish his villainy in. "These were all about twenty five years ago" he gently chided a 'Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves' fan. Maybe, in those name-making roles he – a trained artist before he stepped foot on stage – felt that he was broadly scribbling while in his "deeper" films he may feel he was – and is – applying oil to canvas – but what in cinema is more captivating than a scribble and what could be duller than watching paint dry?

'A Little Chaos' is by no means dull but it is as guilty of the Hollywood conventions Rickman would deny as his burdensome blockbusters. Beginning with the independent and single woman Sabine de Barat in her self sufficient farmstead it charts her battle in a world "where men stand still and give the orders and women bow and curtsy" but the feminist message is slightly lost in what becomes a (financially steered?) Disney princess plot with an over-reliance on handsome noblemen and wall-to-wall wobbling cleavage. Verite gives way to caricature by turns but Stanley Tucci sketches a humorous and diverting character in his Duc D'Orleans and Rickman himself performs Louis XIV in Zen- like cruise-control, a hidden danger lurking under quixotic whimsy.

From its title to its "peak-plummet-peak" Hollywood skeleton, Winslet facial grimaces and period drama pillar-hiding and fan-fluttering, 'A Little Chaos' could be a clichéd Ricky Gervais spoof of the kind of film that receives Oscar nods. In this light it is difficult to mark the film as truly escapist of the Rickman-dismissed blockbuster movies in which he made a pretty penny.

Surely though, in the age of 'Birdman', actors of Rickman's standing can't dismiss the comic-book caricatures they are beloved for. Rickman, in a subtle dig at the chiselled supermen his villains contended with, told Glasgow that he liked working with the actors of the ilk of 'A Little Chaos' cast because they, like him, had performed and directed stage plays, had "been in the gym". Such high handedness serves only to gift Rickman a complacency that blinds him to the effete superficiality of "art films" whose pauses, symbolism and moments of plot highs and lows strike the same beats as the cop partner being killed, the bomb being detonated and the villain being dropped from the roof in an action blockbuster.