‘Napoleon’ review: Ridley Scott takes a big swing with a historical epic, but is it a success?| Trending Viral hub

Ridley Scott is in a fascinating movie, transforming historical moments of love and crime into films as bold as they are polarizing. The last duel It dusts off a 14th century rape case, revealing its hero and villains through three perspectives as a dynamic and wildly fun battle of the sexes. Next, House of Gucci interrogated a murder plot from the point of view of a loving wife turned self-made widow. And now, Napoleon explores the life of the French emperor, primarily through his war victories and his tumultuous relationship with his beloved Joséphine de Beauharnais.

However, where I delighted in the audacity displayed in The last duel and House of GucciScott Napoleon It has left me cold.

Napoleon feels more like a rant than a revelation.

Joaquin Phoenix as Napoleon Bonaparte in the Ridley Scott film "Napoleon."

Credit: Apple Original Movies

If you don’t know the story of Napoleon Bonaparte beyond the pop culture standards of his short stature, big ego, and ABBA-recognized surrender at Waterloo, Scott won’t be much help. NapoleonThe script, written by David Scarpa, has an irregular pace, jumping from high to low with the ease of a history teacher chatting quietly among his classmates. The italicized title cards are meant to add context with who, where, and what, but they do so with a shrug, as if they were helpful reminders rather than introductions.

The dialogue (mainly through complaints or smug British accents) allows the audience to get the gist of the political twists, while Scott’s graphic and extensive battle scenes sufficiently illustrate Napoleon’s skills as a strategist. However, while casual viewers may grasp the outlines of this portrait, Napoleon It doesn’t offer enough definition to get emotionally involved.

Joaquin Phoenix plays Napoleon as a clown.

Joaquin Phoenix and Rupert Everett in Ridley Scott "Napoleon."

Credit: Apple Original Movies

Scott avoids portraying Bonaparte as the short, rotund, volatile buffoon seen in films like time bandits either Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. While Phoenix is ​​filmed to appear shorter than others, including Vanessa Kirby’s Joséphine, a slight low angle on his Napoleon gives him an air of grandeur. Even so, an absurdity is recognized when the emperor’s arrogance collides with his insecurities.

While Phoenix can cut a stern figure on the battlefield, reminiscent of his glowering Roman emperor in Scott’s film. Gladiator — can also fool around, running away from politicians and falling down stairs while proclaiming himself the only true ruler of France. Phoenix deftly straddles this paradox, defiantly responding to Joséphine calling Napoleon fat with an extravagant proclamation: “Fate wanted me to be here. Fate wanted me to eat this mutton chop!”

As he did with The groom is afraid, Phoenix throws himself egolessly into the ridiculous aspects of this character. But while Beau was a foolish coward, Napoleon has a great sense of self that prevents him from seeing his own madness. This is true in war and romance. The final act of the film, where he loses both, could be seen as tragic, if only we cared.

Scott seems to take the audience’s connection to this historical figure for granted. Basically, Napoleon is forced upon us as if his skill in war strategy alone was reason enough to support him. Phoenix’s performance is committed, but lacks the surprise of Matt Damon as a disgusting brute or the excitement of Lady Gaga as a sultry social climber. And while Scott’s previous films were packed with a tantalizing collection of curious characters, Napoleon he regards his supporting actors as little more than toy soldiers. They come and go with slight distinctions: an apoplectic comment here, a grimace there, a violent outburst or a withering look. But few leave their mark on Napoleon’s narrative, except Joséphine. But she is a curiosity of a different kind.

Vanessa Kirby is elegant and enigmatic as Joséphine.

Vanessa Kirby as Josephine in Ridley Scott "Napoleon."

Credit: Apple Original Movies

Presented in rags, walking upright from prison as the Reign of Terror ended, this former aristocrat initially seems to see Napoleon as a strategic cover, protecting her and her children from the fickle French public. His attempts at flirting with her are almost as comical as the repeated scenes of her fornication. In those of her, he fucks her like a dog in heat, while she seems bored, almost impatient.

Throughout your relationship, a crooked smile may appear on your face or a high-pitched giggle escape your lips. But even when she begins to respond to her copious romantic love letters with her own missives, it’s difficult to determine what’s sincere and what’s a survival strategy. As Napoleon’s beloved, she has wealth, status, and a home away from the wars he wages. But, her awful sex life aside, does she have feelings for him?

Kirby’s performance, peppered with wry smiles and cold stares, refuses to give the audience an easy answer. Perhaps this is meant to reflect how Napoleon sees her, a maddeningly fickle but attractive woman. However, this dance becomes tedious over a running time of two hours and 38 minutes. The truth is that Napoleon loves her, but he is also a fool. And in this perhaps she can be understood: who among us has not been a fool for love? But mostly she is irritating.

Vacillating between surly humor, snarl, and misfit playfulness, Phoenix’s Napoleon feels like a chore. Perhaps that’s the point, Scott’s way of offering a critique of the kind of braggarts who rise to power through sheer force of will and atrocious social skills. But that doesn’t make a conference like this entertaining.

Ridley Scott aims high but falls short Napoleon.

Joaquin Phoenix as Napoleon Bonaparte and Vanessa Kirby as Josephine in Ridley Scott "Napoleon."

Credit: Apple Original Movies

Despite his emotional mistake, Napoleon It is surprising in other ways. Scott’s battle scenes are immense, involving cannons, horses, and hordes of soldiers. However, they are easy to follow and brutal in a way that demands that a modern audience recognize the abject horror of these epic historical conflicts.

Within these war scenes, cinematographer Dariusz Wolski presents impressive tableaux. The depth of field stretches for miles, with beige hills or light gray forts rising in the distance, suggesting the conquest to come. Meanwhile, in the foreground are Napoleon and his soldiers, starkly contrasted against the background by their dark crimson and navy uniforms, highlighted with brilliant gold details. Even in a quiet coronation scene, which leaves the darkness behind to emphasize a moment of joy, such attention to detail makes these moments feel profound.

Through decades, wars and scores of historical figures, Napoleon It is without a doubt an ambitious film. But throughout the entire process, Scott is frustrated with us. Perhaps annoyed by the mixed reception of his last two historical pieces, he seems to have lost patience with the public. He will no longer enthusiastically display his interest in the subject or give us chaotically attractive characters. Instead, here is an anxious egomaniac and his enigmatic obsession. Consider them unknowable and inevitable… or don’t.

In the end, Napoleon It’s bold but also unsatisfying.

Napoleon opens in theaters on November 22.

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