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Johnny Depp returns as King Louis XV in this bland drama: BRIAN VINER reviews Jeanne Du Barry


Johnny Depp makes his royal comeback as King Louis XV in this disappointingly bland French-language drama: BRIAN VINER criticizes Jeanne Du Barry

Jeanne Du Barry (116 mins)


Hollywood loves throwback stories, as does the Cannes Film Festival.

Johnny Depp was overwhelmed by the lavish ovation that followed the festival’s opening film, French director Jeanne Du Barry, on Tuesday night.

In his first performance since the long legal battle with his ex-wife Amber Heard, Depp plays King Louis XV, whose mistress Madame du Barry is played by the film’s director, French actress Maiwenn.

Johnny Depp is depicted as Louis XV in the ‘disappointing and bland’ 2023 film Jeanne Du Barry


BRIAN VINER: ‘Overall it’s a trivial matter, about a case that was anything but’

Considering the scandal Louis caused by installing Jeanne at Versailles, and indeed the recent scandals swirling around the names of not only Depp but also Maiwenn (who was prosecuted for assault), the film itself is of a disappointing blandness.

The costumes and sets are fabulous, but it’s an everyday biopic that offers no real insight into what it was like to be Louis’ favorite courtesan who electrified him so much.

Depp is perfectly fine, if oddly subdued, and sounds passably French (to my ears at least) in the few lines he utters.

The image pokes fun at the silly rituals of the French court and turns Louis’s disapproving daughters into ugly sister caricatures worthy of a Christmas panto.

But overall, it’s a trivial matter, about a case that was anything but.

I was also at the premiere of the monumental documentary Occupied City (★★★★★) by Steve McQueen, which tells, by chronicling life in modern Amsterdam during the first months of the pandemic, what happened there 80 years ago during the German war profession.

It’s a tour de force that lasts four hours and 22 minutes, and I can’t do it remote justice here, so I’ll come back to it at greater length another time.

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