The biggest French box-office disaster in recent memory (it wiped out the massive profits of Asterix et Obelix Contre Cesar and nearly took Gaumont with it), this pretty much completes Roland Joffe's unbroken post-The Mission run of box-office and artistic failure. This is the kind of film Delia Smith might appreciate, but few others will. It all starts off so well. So well that I was wondering why this has such a bad reputation, but it quickly became apparent that it really was just a film about a three-day party seen from the point of view of the caterers. The fact that the party is thrown for the Sun King gave it plenty of visual opulence, but the lack of substance became more and more apparent as it dragged on towards the third day - it's definitely one of those party's that goes on way too long and which you should have left much earlier while it was still in full swing. When one of the characters kills themselves because there aren't enough fish to go around and the script strains to turn it into an act of revolt against a world where nobility of the spirit counts less than accidents of birth, you know that someone's reading a little too much into it.
Gerard Depardieu looks alarmingly unhealthy throughout, Tim Roth gives a very bored reprise of his Rob Roy party piece and the wooden Uma Thurman is borderline disastrous/vaguely competent (the scene where she stops the wind by force of will is one of the most laughable pieces of face pulling in recent years). The supporting cast fare better - mostly Brits like Julian Glover, Timothy Spall, Richard Griffiths and Julian Sands. Shot in English, it is very odd to note that Depardieu is dubbed for the odd few words (but rarely full sentences) by another, very British sounding actor. Maybe he was too ill to make the ADR sessions. It's lavish and you can see where the money was spent, you just can't see why.