I really wanted to like A Little Chaos. From the outset, it seems that the film has a strong team behind it. Directed by Alan Rickman, the cast includes Kate Winslet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Stanley Tucci, Helen McCrory, Rupert Penry-Jones and Jennifer Ehle. Alan Rickman also has a small role as King Louis XIV.
Having been appointed by King Louis XIV to design the gardens at the Palace of Versailles, André Le Nôtre (Schoenaerts) appoints the unique outsider Sabine de Barra (Winslet) to design a fountain and the surrounding area for the gardens. As we see the relationship between André and Sabine grow, we also see the unhappiness that André feels in his marriage. Sabine is haunted by memories from her past, which become clearer as the film progresses.
Although A Little Chaos seems like it would be a success, the end result is a little flat. The film quickly becomes boring, and the characters do not hold enough interest for the viewer to stay intrigued. About thirty minutes into the film, I found myself reading about the Australian comedian Adam Hills, rather than giving the film my full attention.
It’s not the fault of the actors in this case, as the strong cast all do an excellent job with the range of characters on offer. Winslet certainly holds the film up with her emotionally charged performance, and Sabine ends up being the only character still of interest by the end of the film. Even Rickman’s directing style, although nothing special, is visually beautiful, as are the filming locations, including at Hampton Court Palace and Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.
Running at almost two hours long, A Little Chaos loses its way within the flow of the plot. The cast have certainly seen better films, and although I am a massive fan of Kate Winslet, I would watch most of her previous films before A Little Chaos again.
A Little Chaos is available on DVD and Blu-ray now.