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  • Colin Fraser


THREE AND A HALF STARS Desperate to save his love, his King and country, D'Artagnan forms an alliance with the duplicitous spy Milday de Winter.


Starring Eva Green, François Civil

Part 2 of what may become a trilogy (or franchise?) is no less rousing, no less thrilling, no less swash buckling than its predecessor THE THREE MUSKETEERS: D’ARTAGNAN, released last month. Unsurprising given the two films were shot back to back and the latter engages the same cast and crew who made the former such a hit. Although US audiences have no stomach for anything foreign (where a tepid response prevailed - their loss) both films were lapped up in their home country and performed well where people don’t fear subtitles.

And why not? D’ARTAGNAN was every bit the exciting period action piece that you’d expect from a yarn about the King’s Musketeers performed on a stage as grand as this. Cue gritty men fighting honourably to defend the Crown from deceitful players in fabulous locations and fabulous costumes while wielding fabulous swords. It all happens with a wink and a grin that doesn’t take itself too seriously but just seriously enough. In doing so, director Martin Bouroulon has reenergised the genre with such panache that Dumas’ other period masterpiece has been given a reboot (The Count of Monte Cristo - coming soon!).

MILADY picks up right where the previous film left off. It literally starts with a bang and doesn’t let up with D’Artagnan (François Civil) in hot pursuit of the deceitful spy Milady de Winter, played with scene-stealing relish by Eva Green (spoiler: she didn’t die in the first instalment). She is one part Jason Bourne, one part Mata Hari and tricky as all get out. This mostly faithful dramatisation of Dumas’ novel now shifts its focus from the Musketeers to de Winter’s involvement in the plot to bring down the King (an excellent and delightfully ennui’d Louis Garrel). As the story pings between her and D’Artagnan there are occasional forays to other players, notably Athos and a firmly held secret that could be their undoing, and the King’s outwardly faithful brother Gaston.

In fact, there’s so much story and so much deceit that it’s often hard to keep up with who’s doing what to whom and why. Consider D’Artagnan’s best chance of saving his love Constance is by creating an awkward alliance with Milady, one that gets even more awkward when she makes a move on the motivated musketeer. Has she swapped sides? And what of Cardinal Richelieu, or Gaston for that matter? Bourbolon expects us to stay abreast of these assorted and ever changing alliances and it’s a challenge well received.

With war raging, a King under siege and loyalties being tested at every turn, there’s a certain contemporary resonance in the story of the Musketeers. It would go some way to explaining the evergreen appeal of Dumas’ novel. But we could just get a handle on that tricky Milday de Winter perhaps we could better understand our world. Maybe in the next instalment, for as they say in the serials, to be continued…



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