FILM REVIEW: MY KING (2016) MAÏWENN
By Belle McIntyre
The love story at its center would be sufficient to sustain this deeply felt, subtly nuanced relationship film. However, the director and co-writer, Maiwenn, injects another layer which provides greater dimension to a milieu which she clearly understands on a deeply personal level. There is nothing voyeuristic in the telling of the story which is from the point of view of Tony (Emmanuelle Bercot) who is first glimpsed happily skiing in the Alps. The next scene cuts abruptly to her injured body being loaded into a car, and delivered into a rehab facility in a wheelchair. (One could only wish to be consigned to a place of such spa-like beauty).
Tony’s physical rehab opens the door for her emotional rehab as the psychologist who meets with her at the beginning of her stay questions what was going on for her in her life to cause her to have this accident. The implication being that “there are no accidents” which sets in motion Tony’s examination of her life up to that point. Her injury has been severe and will take months to restore her to normal so she will have plenty of time for this life review.
It is within this framework that we learn the story of Tony and Georgio (Vincent Cassel). Tony shamelessly flirts with Georgio in a bar and manages to entice him away from his adoring entourage of demi-mondaine friends. She is with her brother and sister-in-law, an attractive but relatively strait trio - they all go off to Georgio’s very cool, modern pad to hang out, eat and drink until morning. Georgio is an uber sexy/handsome high roller who is also charming, and rich. As Solal (Louis Garrel), Tony’s brother points out - the man is clearly trouble. It falls on deaf ears. Tony is hooked.
That this leads to anything beyond a one-night stand does not look promising. And yet it does. Tony, who has a waif-like prettiness works as a trial lawyer, while Georgio, who is older, is a successful restauranteur and bon vivant with a taste for glamorous beautiful women and the high life. But timing is in Tony’s favor as Georgio seems to be tiring of his current way of life and he is intrigued by Tony and willing to try something new. So they launch into what can only be called an inexorable tango of unbridled passion. The unfolding of their story runs parallel with Tony’s physical recovery and the relationships which she develops with her unlikely mates in rehab - a motley crew of younger men of various ethnicities. This provides for some comic relief and allows Tonyto reveal more of herself outside the turbulent roller coaster of her relationship through marriage, parenthood and a brutal divorce during which time she comes completely unglued, abuses drugs and alcohol. Through it all the two of them have forged an unshakable bond.
Bercot so realistically inhabits her character and effortlessly conveys the full range of emotional states with an unselfconsciousness naturalism which makes every shift and change in mood and attitude completely convincing. Cassel is imminently watchable with his world-weary seductive eyes and chiseled features. One of the most poignant moments is one of the final scenes which has the two of them in a meeting with their son’s teacher. Tony’s attention wanders and we follow her gaze as it slowly roams his face like a caress in what can only be seen as a look of love. It is a moment which redeems without judgement an intensely personal portrait of a deep love affair.