Fanfan La Tulipe Reviews
In a genre rarely found in American cinema, Fanfan la Tulipe offers viewers a trip through time. The film is a contemporary remake of a 1952 Swashbuckler adventure comedy with a fast-paced narrative packed with farce. The energy in the film is infectious because though it dashes past the concept of a deep narrative, Fanfan la Tulipe is an extremely fun film to watch because it is all about appreciation of style and humour with a team of people dedicated to creating the best possible imagery. The production values of Fanfan la Tulipe are magnificent. Boasting a large budget, Fanfan la Tulipe shows Gerard Krawcyzk diverting the funds directly into making the feature a stylish one. Shot on location with remarkable scenery, Fanfan la Tulipe is an experience packed with colour. The story context is made to feel all the more legitimate by the fact that the production design and costumes are stunning. The latter bring out the appearance of the actors very nicely while the former gives the characters a wonderful story setting, and the lush countryside of the story is just wonderful to look at every second of the film. Everything is captured with beautiful large scale cinematography which always keeps the focal point in focus while the large scale of the story is captured with the horizon planted firmly in the background. The action scenes are also captured well thanks to strong cinematography, appropriately paced editing and genuinely clever choreography.
The musical score is perhaps the key factor that gives feeling to Fanfan la Tulipe. With the film moving along at such a fast pace, Alexandre Azaria's work on the score ensures that the music keeps up with the energy of the film and breathes a sense of atmosphere into the experience on a consistent basis. The music is fast and large in scale, perfectly capturing the colourful mood of the experience beyond strictly visual.
But I will admit that Gerarg Krawcyzk's dedication to the film's style exceeds the narrative grasp. The points in the film where it attempts to build genuine drama are their downfall. Considering that Fanfan la Tulipe is very fun as a brisk comedic farce, when it deviates away from this for melodramatic plot construction slows down the experience and gets in the way of what makes the experience valuable. It is at these points in the story where the viewer is forced to confront the fact that the narrative is short on substance . This transition happens largely during the film going from its first act to the second as the former is all about the swashbuckling adventure of the comic-strip creation characters in a costume drama setting whereas the latter is a more character-oriented attempt to shift the focus onto being a love story. But when the characters are thin archetypes intentionally present to drive a conventional narrative, sticking them with slow sentimentality and hokey melodrama simply serves as a bump in a road which is otherwise smooth. The film remains a fun experience which never takes itself too seriously, but the dramatic moment in the film take their toll on the experience particularly in the second half where the mood becomes a lot more serious and the humour plays second fiddle. And even though the dialogue is intelligently constructed in all of this, it just fails to match up to the same level of fun delivered by the arguably superior first half of Fanfan la Tulipe. In essence, Fanfan la Tulipe finds its success as a shallow film because it knows it is one, and any attempts to pretend otherwise can just be frustrating.
Yet though the melodrama is tedious, the cast in Fanfan la Tulipe make it work while keeping up with its manic energy as well.
Vincent Perez is a perfect lead. As the titular Fanfan la Tulipe, Vincent Perez's over the top comedic charisma is thoroughly refreshing because he embodies the fun nature of the story brilliantly. Capturing a mix of Roberto Bengini and Antonio Banderas but with the handsome demeanour of Christophe Lambert, Vincent Perez leads Fanfan la Tulipe with a tenacious spirit. He flawlessly embodies the swashbuckling comedic spirit of the narrative with relentless physical speed and swift line delivery while slowing down to the appropriate level for when the story calls him to be more dramatic. During these moments, he captures the intricate romantic passion of his character and puts a new level of sympathetic spirit into the part. He transcends the shallow nature of the character, but even then the fun lies in the fact that he is a thin and over the top comedic archetype which Vincent Perez has no problem embracing every inch of. Vincent Perez is a wonderful lead in Fanfan la Tulipe, and he once again proves his value of working in a heavily costume oriented film while proving his value as a flamboyant comedic performer this time around. He lives up to the Luc Besson label very well.
Penelope Cruz is also wonderful. Though I didn't know the actress could speak French, Penelope Cruz acts flawlessly under another language for Fanfan la Tulipe. The beautiful actress is easily able to capture a sense of frail innocence with her presence in the film, and her subtle dramatic passion adds to this feeling. She gradually shows more of her dramatic spirit as the story progresses and her chemistry with Vincent Perez develops, and there is a true sense of romance that blossoms between them which makes the sentimentality of the experience a little less tedious. Penelope Cruz's natural beauty is a wonderful asset to Fanfan la Tulipe, and her efforts to illuminate the drama in the film through working with Vincent Perez proves a gentle sentiment.
So Fanfan la Tulipe boasts a wonderful visual style and an energetically atmospheric musical score, and though the story itself is thin and unnecessarily melodramatic at times, it is bolstered by a hilarious leading performance from Vincent Perez.
I like movies happening during these times, swashbuckling movies. But this remake wasn't so good.