Jeanne du Barry: Johnny Depp is back, but badly (**)

by archynewsy
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There are many reasons to make a movie an event. And almost all bad. It may be that the protagonist is too young or too old or too handsome or too ugly or too rich or too poor (this case has never happened, but it could). Johnny Depp, for example, is simply too much. Everything is left over. He is both the best of actors and the worst of them all, the most commercial and the most irritatingly indie. And therefore, each of his films is, by necessity, an event. If to all of the above we add that he returns after a season he was away, then even more so. ‘Jeanne du Barry’, by Maïwenn, is, in fact, his first work after the great and very media trial against his ex Amber Heard from which he was acquitted after another previous one in which he was convicted. Johnny Depp, in fact, in the excessiveness of him may be too guilty and too innocent. At once.

In short, we are facing an event. And that, we said, is almost always bad. The first thing that stands out is how little the moderate, or lukewarm, nature of Maïween’s proposal in every sense accompanies the simple and excessive occasion. The staging that, in his hands, more or less like it, until now used to be pure dynamite, now becomes a rosary of frames so calculated and precious that rather than enthusing (which is what they are looking for) they only overwhelm. The heavy use of the drone through the gardens of Versailles, the flashes in the camera or the insistence on the close-up (actress and director are the same) complete the style book of a film with the packaging of a lavish prestige production. Nothing else.

The person responsible for violent and violent hand-to-hand cinema exercises like ‘Policies‘ y ‘My love’ now moderates the gesture to investigate, modernize and recreate very freely the life of the courtesan and official lover of His Majesty Louis XV of France, the Jeanne Du Barry of the title. The idea is to place the camera in the eyes of the character brought to life by the director herself and, from there, see, explain and dissect the other side. It is therefore a matter of offering, in its most naive and clear evidence, the opposite reading to what is, in effect, evident.

The problem lies in the director’s undisguised fascination with her character beyond reason. In the simplistic and somewhat clumsy ideology of the film, the heroine was nothing different from a cultivated Cinderella who won the favors of the monarch for her intelligence, her naturalness, her empathy and her relentless fight against the hypocrisy of the flattering court. corrupt. As a social, or even political, reading, ‘Jeanne du Barry’ it craves between quite conservative and just reactionary in its glorification of monarchical nonsense, despite the fact that at times it tries to champion something like good feelings.

And then, let’s not forget, there is Johnny Depp in the shoes of the king. The king who returns. No matter where he looks, and with no desire to prove or disprove anyone, the aroma of provocation surrounds everything. Depp appears invested with all the royal royalty of himself in what could well pass as the quintessence of himself. Again, in an almost silent role, we see the actor move around the screen with that hint of minimal gesticulation so close to Buster Keaton and that defines him so well. It seems that the role played by Johnny Depp is not that of any character, prince or commoner, but that of himself. Depp playing Depp while becoming king of France. Can more be too much?

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