The folly of mad love

Vincent Cassel and Emmanuelle Bercot (both above), the couple blinded by passion in Mon Roi.
Vincent Cassel and Emmanuelle Bercot (both above), the couple blinded by passion in Mon Roi.PHOTO: SHAW ORGANISATION

A couple fall fiercely for each other, then realise they do not know the other person in this French romance

REVIEW / ROMANCE DRAMA

MON ROI (M18)

128 minutes/Opens tomorrow/3/5 stars

The story: Lawyer Tony (Emmanuelle Bercot), short for Marie Antoinette, shares her name with the doomed wife of French monarch Louis XVI. Mon Roi is French for My King and the one who rules Tony's heart in this contemporary French romance is wild man-child Georgio (Vincent Cassel). Their relationship is both exhilarating and emotionally eviscerating.

Love is a battlefield, rocker Pat Benatar once sang.

And in the case of Tony and Georgio, it is a drawn-out war with skirmishes, attacks and injuries sustained over many years.

If the story had unfolded chronologically, it would not have been very interesting.

But French actress-film-maker Maiwenn (Polisse, 2011), who directed and co-wrote the film, breathes some tension into the work using flashbacks.

We first see Tony undergoing rehabilitation at a facility after she injured herself in a skiing accident and it is suggested that she had tried to take her life. How did she end up in such a state?

How did the relationship between Tony and Georgio sour to such an extent?

After all, they fell for each other so fiercely at the start, the kind of amour fou ("mad love") that has them desperately clawing at each other in a restaurant kitchen.

Blinded by passion, Tony tumbles into a relationship with Georgio and, only much later, is struck by the chilly realisation that she does not know him at all.

For her all-in and intense performance, Bercot (Clement, 2001) was named Best Actress at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.

Cassel (Black Swan, 2010) provides the caddish charisma for a role you have to both love and hate. Or at least, he has to make you understand why Tony is besotted and, ultimately, entrapped by him.

Providing an outsider pers- pective in this hermetic world is Tony's brother, Solal (Louis Garrel).

But there is only so much a third party can say or do to those mired knee-deep in an emotional morass.

Only Tony can decide to claw her way out of the battlefield.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2016, with the headline 'The folly of mad love'. Print Edition | Subscribe