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Michèle Mercier



Films Borderie, 1966.  Directed by Bernard Borderie.  Camera:  Henri Persin.  With Michèle Mercier, Robert Hossein, Jean Rochefort, Jacques Toja, Sami Frey, Estella Blain.

After her second husband, Philippe de Plessis-Bellières, has been killed in battle, the influential marquise Angélique withdraws from court life to look after her children.  Her retirement is short-lived, however.  The King of France, Louis XIV, summons her to fulfill an essential mission of state:  she must charm the Persian ambassador into signing a vital pact with France.  When the King offers to restore to her the estate of her first husband, Joffrey de Peyrac (executed for sorcery), Angèlique accepts, but reluctantly…

The third in the series of five films adapted from the stories by Anne et Serge Golon sees Angélique torn between her loyalties to her state (whom she must serve to safeguard her children’s future) and her first husband, whom she believes to be still alive.  Whilst the sentiment is steeped a little high, strong performances, particularly from Michèle Mercier as Angélique, Sami Frey as the Persian Ambassador and Jacques Toja as Louis XIV, prevents this from spoiling an otherwise faultless entry in the Angélique series.

The high production values which we associate with French historical dramas are evident for all to see, with sumptuous spacious sets and impressive costumes.  The spicy mix of dangerous court intrigue and romantic liaisons, with grisly deaths and mildly erotic love scenes, makes this an uncompromisingly adult film (at least for a 1960s audience).

Whilst there are a few action scenes, this film is more restrained than the others in the series.  Whilst the ending feels like something of an anti-climax, it does encourage the viewer to look forward to the next film in the series.