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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
His Wish Is Their Command
by Betty Jo Tucker

A Little Chaos stars Kate Winslet, Matthias Schuenearts and Alan Rickman as two landscape artists and Louis XIV of France, respectively. These three fine actors are a joy to watch. And so is the entire film. Beautiful scenery, colorful period costumes, splendid art decoration, engaging cinematography and appealing background music combine with outstanding performances and a fascinating story to make this movie one of the year’s best.


King Louis wants a garden rare,

fit for his reign with class to spare.

Landscape artists with different styles

meet each other, but neither smiles.


He likes order. She’s not so sure

their art will meld and still be pure.

Working things out, their love soon blooms

in spite of risks while danger looms.


Will Louis get what he wants done?

Will beauty rise to match the sun?

Watching this film is such a treat.

For lovely scenes, it can’t be beat.


Winslet (Revolutionary Road) plays Sabine De Barra, a very independent widow (especially in 1692) who ekes out a living as a hard-working, freelance landscape designer. The part suits Winslet like red on a rose. She projects Sabine’s fearless dedication and professionalism -- despite living in a world dominated by men and their negative attitudes toward women who don’t know “their place.” We cheer Sabine on as she submits her plans for the King’s gardens to André Le Notre (Schuenearts), the royal gardener. But other applicants (all male) are befuddled and not a bit happy when she gets selected for this important project. 

Schuenearts (Far from the Madding Crowd) does a terrific job showing André’s growing love and admiration for Sabine as well as his unhappiness with his jealous wife (Helen McCrory).  And the always watchable Rickman (Professor Snape in the Harry Potter franchise), who also directs and helped write the script, evokes both chuckles and esteem during his limited time on camera here. My favorite Rickman scene comes when Sabine thinks the King is a commoner and spends one charming afternoon with him among her plants.

Other lovely scenes to watch for include: romantic interludes between the characters played by Winslet and Schunearts, who have wonderful on-screen chemistry together; a gorgeous shot of Sabine sitting in a huge tree she has shaped into a giant place to rest; and the final delightful  sequence inside the breathtaking “outdoor ballroom” at Versailles.

Overcoming obstacles, trying to recover from a past tragedy, dealing with negativity, finding a new love, and creating something beautiful are all important accomplishments. Still, each one requires a little chaos.           

(Released by Focus Films and rated “R” for some sexuality and brief nudity.)

For more information about A Little Chaos, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.

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