We all know that Alan Rickman is a great actor with a bunch of top credits to his name.
But is he a great director?
This is his second attempt at taking charge behind the camera and it proves he’s pretty darn good at this too.
I confess I haven’t seen his directorial debut, 1997’s The Winter Guest, but I really liked the way he sets up shots in his latest project.
His decision to use music sparingly and set up several scenes with just two or three people make this a fascinating film.
This is a story of landscape gardener Sabine De Barra, played by Kate Winslet, who is drafted in by Royal gardener André Le Notre (Matthias Schoenaerts) to help transform Versailles’ backyard into something fit for a king.
Although Rickman is the director and helped with the script, he also struts his stuff as King Louis XIV.
It’s a role made for the man and he successfully tries to reveal some humanity behind the king, a man surrounded by fops and obsequious hangers-on but who searches for someone to be frank and honest.
I saw Schoenaerts when he popped up in Rust and Bone in 2012 and he recently appeared in the wartime drama Suite Francaise.
In those movies and in A Little Chaos he plays the sultry love interest and he’s shortly to be much the same in Far From The Madding Crowd. Perhaps he needs to try something different as he definitely has great presence on the big screen.
Winslet has a natural beauty that is perfect for this role, a widow battling in a male dominated world and with a tragic secret.
But there’s also a wonderful backing cast with Stanley Tucci as the king’s brother and the wonderful Helen McCrory as Le Notre’s promiscuous wife.
A Little Chaos is a gentle tale that relies on a good script, some fine performances and a man with a wealth of knowledge in control.
Let’s hope Rickman provides us with more examples of his directing skills.
Film details: A Little Chaos (12A) 117mins
Director: Alan Rickman
Starring: Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman, Stanley Tucci,
Screening courtesy of Horsham Capitol