Around two months after Johnny Depp's (60) victory in the defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife Amber Heard (37), filming on the historical and costume film "Jeanne du Barry" began in France in 2022. That year, Depp's cinema comeback opened the prestigious Cannes Film Festival out of competition. With director, co-screenwriter and leading actress Maïwenn (47), the mega-star has a no less controversial partner at his side.
Because Maïwenn, who was once married to director Luc Besson (64), is a self-confessed MeToo opponent. In the past, the 47-year-old filmmaker has stood out for publicly speaking things like: "When I hear women complain that men only care about their butts, I tell them, 'Enjoy it because it will not be like this forever!'"
Together, the fallen Hollywood superstar, who incidentally only speaks French in the film, and the controversial director and leading actress have now created an almost classic costume film that displays visual opulence en masse, but offers surprisingly little drama, especially in the second half of the film. However, "Jeanne du Barry" is definitely worth seeing.
France before the revolution: Jeanne Vaubernier (Maïwenn) came from a humble background, but as she got older she became a cultivated and sensual courtesan in the highest social circles of the Ancien Régimes. Even the absolute ruler Louis XV. (Depp) finally becomes aware of the young woman. After a humiliating gynecological examination, which Jeanne endures calmly, she charms the French king and the two fall in love.
At court, Jeanne, who came from a humble background and, strictly speaking, has borne the title of countess since her marriage to the Comte du Barry (Melvil Poupaud, 50), is not welcomed by many. Especially the three daughters of King Louis XV. are not well-disposed towards her and leave no stone unturned to drive Jeanne out of Versailles again.
Anyone who expects to see "Jeanne du Barry", a film in which "Pirates of the Caribbean" star Johnny Depp takes center stage, will be disappointed. Although the now 60-year-old mime embodies King Louis XV. Jeanne's passionate lover, and many scenes shared by the lovers convince through playful intimacy, but ultimately "Jeanne du Barry" is the great Maïwenn show.
What is being told here is an almost classic story of social climbers, in which the viewers also get to know the sometimes extremely strange courtly world through Jeanne, who has just come to Versailles. A running gag that is used again and again - which also reliably ignites repeatedly - is the courtly custom that, with the exception of the heir to the throne, no one should follow Louis XV. allowed to turn their backs when walking. Only Freigeist Jeanne disregards these and many other rules and does without the crazy little tripping steps.
In addition to its prominent cast, "Jeanne du Barry" is particularly convincing as a historical film, which was opulently furnished by costume sponsor Chanel. Maïwenn's work also benefits from the fact that it was possible to shoot at a number of original locations, such as the fabulous interior of the Royal Palace of Versailles. In its best moments, the costume film is reminiscent of genre classics such as Stanley Kubrick's (1928-1999) possibly most underrated work "Barry Lyndon" (1975).
During Jeanne's rise and seduction of Louis XV. is grippingly staged, but there are some lengths in the second half of the film. Here, Jeanne's conflict with the king's daughters and Marie Antoinette (Pauline Pollman), who is new to the court, is at the center of the plot, but these not particularly dramatic courtly intrigues and intrigues are never completely captivating.
With "Jeanne du Barry", leading actress and director Maïwenn has staged a well-crafted, convincing historical film that, despite all its strengths and advantages, is never able to completely inspire. Without the involvement of Johnny Depp, who has been the focus of public debate so much in recent years, the work would certainly receive far less attention.