Maïwenn’s sixth feature film, the opening film of the 76th Cannes Film Festival, “Jeanne Du Barry,” signs the return of the director to Cannes as well as Johnny Depp, who has been absent from the screens since 2018. What to rediscover the story of the Countess du Barry, who became, by force of circumstance, the ultimate favorite of the King of France … until causing his own loss.
Maïwenn director and actress
Maiwenn is a precocious actress. Pushed in front of the camera at the age of 5 by the love of her mother, the actress Catherine Belkhodja, she was revealed by her role as a young Isabelle Adjani in Jean Becker’s L’Eté Meurtrier (1983). She was then propelled by Luc Besson, who made her physically play the diva – an opera singer – in his film The Fifth Element (1997).
But it is definitely in directing that she reveals herself in the French cinematographic landscape.
From Pardonnez-moi (2006), describing her toxic relationship with her parents, to ADN (2020), a film about her Algerian origins, director Maïwenn has revealed much more about her past through her characters than one might suspect.
And that’s without counting Mon Roi (2015) on the love hold, Polisse (2011) evoking the backstage of a brigade of protection of minors or Le bal des actrices (2009), presenting with humor and a five-star cast the relationship to fame and power. Add to this the fact that when she directs, she is often in front of the camera.
A regular at the Cannes Film Festival, in 2011, she won the Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize with Polisse for her first selection in competition. Four years later, she returned to the official selection with Mon Roi with a role that allowed Emmanuelle Bercot to win the Best Actress Award.
For her sixth film, Maiwenn chose to focus on a historical character unfairly relegated to the image of “the King’s whore”: Jeanne du Barry, the last mistress of Louis XV.
However, the director has decided to abandon a purely historical reconstruction to focus on the passionate relationshipbetween Jeanne Du Barry and Louis XV, in defiance of court protocol and rumors.
She thus declared to the JDD, “The purists will perhaps criticize me, I am prepared for it, but I completely assume the angle that I chose.” She nevertheless specifies that her retelling of the historical character will be “neither pop nor rock,” as Sofia Coppola had done for her film Marie-Antoinette.
The only “modern” dimension of this production is perhaps the signature by Chanel of six dresses by Jeanne Du Barry. A bias far from irrelevant when we know that its former artistic director Karl Lagerfeld was particularly fond of the Grand Siècle with its crinoline dresses and the rococo style. The singer Dua Lipa at the MET Gala wore a vintage dress from the Haute Couture collection fall-winter 1992 of the House.
The film also showcases the group’s other Houses, including hats from Maison Michel, goldsmiths from Goosens, and Chanel’s fine jewelry.
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Featured photo : © Stéphanie Branchu / Why Not Productions