The Netflix Report

Movie reviews from my Netflix queue. Highly personal and opinionated!

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Monday, April 17, 2006

The Emperor’s New Clothes

I didn't love this film. First of all, the directing and photography is poor. If you have an LCD screen, don't even bother. About 80% of the film is shot in dark shadows and it can be difficult to pick out the action. Closeups are overused throughout. Many of the supporting actors are allowed to overplay bits and reactions so they seem like vaudevillians.

The story comes from a book that posits a scenario where Napoleon escapes from his exile on Elba and is replaced there by a double. Napoleon makes it back to France in the guise of a lowly person. If you are thinking "Didn't we do this in The Prince And The Pauper?" you are correct.

Ian Holm is excellent as usual in his role as Napoleon (and the double). His force of will almost carries the movie on its own. The leading female (Iben Hjejle) is also very good – although I think she is going to have to pick a better marquee pseudonym if she wants to make it big in American cinema. But the movie is all buildup that leads nowhere.

On the plus side, there are some nice sets and costumes doing the whole Paris of the 1800's thing. A few countryside location shots are very pretty. But I couldn't bring myself to care too much. The movie is sometimes billed as a comedy (an idea supported by the cover art with a big lipstick kiss on the emperor's cheek). But it's not very comedic. It tries to be a historical drama, a thriller, a psychological character study, a romance, and a light comedy all at the same time. It's too much weight for the donkey's back.

Parents won't have any problems with kids in the room, other than keeping them amused with some games, because they won't care about what's on the screen.

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