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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Ridicule (1996)



Reviews and Comments

Just prior to the French Revolution, wit was power in the court of Louis XVI. If you were quick with your tongue, your case was heard. If you weren't, you were made a laughing stock. The film has the look of a genteel costume drama, but make no mistake. This is a brutal war, and like all wars, there are spoils for the victors and squat for the regrettable casualties.

The clever verbal sparring is the film's main attraction, but the human side of the story is solid as well. It centers on an engineer who wants to seek help from the King to drain a swamp, the breeding ground for mosquitos and disease, so that the people who live there will stop dying. There's a woman of the court and a woman in a lower class, of course, and various other inter-class relationships to sort out.

For die-hard art film fanatics, Ridicule should be gold. I found it admirable and insightful, but a laborious final third hurt it for me.