For­ever am­ber­gris

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IThe Princess of Mont­pen­sier, 16th-cen­tury love quad­ran­gle, not rated, in French with sub­ti­tles, CCA Cine­math­eque, 3 chiles Heav­ing bodices! Knee-breeches! Swash­buck­ling! Sword fights! This epic film is set dur­ing the French Wars of Re­li­gion, bloody 16th-cen­tury bat­tles be­tween Ro­man Catholics and Protes­tant Huguenots, but it isn’t all that con­cerned about its char­ac­ters’ re­li­gious in­cli­na­tions or who wins the war. This is more a Re­nais­sance-era battle of the sexes, a les­son about what not to do if you’re a beau­ti­ful and will­ful French no­ble­woman of mar­riage­able age in the 1560s.

Young Marie de Méz­ières (Mélanie Thierry) loves the dash­ing Duc Henri de Guise (Gas­pard Ul­liel). Her ma­te­ri­al­is­tic and po­lit­i­cally am­bi­tious fa­ther, how­ever, cares more about real es­tate than his daugh­ter’s hopes for a pas­sion­ate mar­riage with a com­pat­i­ble mate. He ar­ranges for her to wed Henri’s friend, Prince Philippe de Mont­pen­sier (Gré­goire Leprince-Ringuet), a young no­ble­man she has, of course, never met. Ah, the good old days, when men were men and women were prop­erty.

Not long af­ter their mar­riage is con­sum­mated, Philippe dashes off to fight along­side Henri; he asks his for­mer men­tor, the now-paci­fistic scholar Comte de Cha­bannes (Lambert Wil­son, best known state­side as Merovin­gian in the Ma­trix se­quels), to watch over Marie and ed­u­cate her in prepa­ra­tion for her even­tual pre­sen­ta­tion at court. Chival­rous though he is, Cha­bannes soon ad­mits that he also

Raphäel Per­son­naz, left, and Gas­pard Ul­liel

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