A playful story, A Little Chaos picks up after a very slow paced start and delivers an entertaining watch. Kate Winslet’s performance is strong and earnest as landscape gardener Sabine de Barra, a confident woman with subtle feistiness and a classy brashness that bucks the trend of the 17th century period in which it is set.
Despite his initial hesitation Sabine is chosen by the court’s renowned landscape artist Andrè Le Nôtre (Matthias Schoenaerts) to create an outdoor ballroom fit for a king, King Louis XIV to be exact. Love blooms between them amongst the chaos of failed relationships, illicit secrets and turned earth.
Helen McCory is apt for the role of jealous adulterer Madame Le Nôtre. Having had enough of her own extra marital affairs she decides to fight dirty for her marriage to Nôtre, a move which bears disastrous results.
As the film progresses it becomes clear that more than just romance is going on. The renovations act as a healing process for Sabine’s bottled-up heartache. Through it she manages to make sense of the losses she has suffered and finds a way to rebuild her life.
Alan Rickman’s deliverance of King Louis XIV falls somewhere between exquisitely regal yet borderline stilted. A dry rendition that is no doubt ideal for the period and his royal status however slightly uninspired.
Rickman’s directorial skills however, are proven with this classy, confident watch, though the film is not without its bursts of cloyingly held gazes.
A periodical drama with understated bite and a worthy story to tell.