No one makes films about bad relationships better than the French, and Maïwenn’s My King is a fine if not entirely original example. Attorney Tony (Emmanuelle Bercot) and restaurateur Georgio (Vincent Cassel) are two upper middle class Parisians who probably never should have gotten together despite their chemistry and affection for each other.
After crossing paths in a nightclub, Georgio invites Tony (short for Marie-Antoinette) and her entourage—her brother Solal (Louis Garrel) and his fiancée Babeth (Isild Le Besco)—to his apartment for breakfast after last call. Solal and Babeth fall asleep on a couch, but Tony and Georgio hit it off. He’s dashing, smart, and full of ideas for cool things to do. It’s not long before they’re emotionally and carnally involved—and Georgio, the smooth guy that he is, is assuring Tony that her vagina is magnifique. As hooked as Tony is, something isn’t quite right from the outset: Georgio has a penchant for escape, whether through wine, his friends, or his ex, cover model Agnes (Chrystele Saint-Louis Augustin), who is all too present in his life, sometimes summoning him to her place in the middle of the night for emergencies. Things get complicated when Tony gets pregnant.
WARNING: Potential spoilers ahead!
My King is less about the events that occur onscreen than its characters and what makes them tick. Tony’s insecurities don’t mix with Georgio’s restlessness, the latter of which manifests itself in his buying stuff, drug benders, pool parties, and even renting his own apartment down the street from her and the baby. She loves him, but he brings out the worst in her. The story is told through flashbacks as Tony goes through rehabilitation after a skiing accident, ultimately suggesting that maybe she hurt herself on purpose. As Tony gets stronger in rehabilitation, she opens herself to the other patients—most of them younger and more relaxed men who are less sophisticated but nicer than Georgio. It’s not clear where she’s headed, but let’s hope it’s somewhere healthier.
Maïwenn’s directing is competent, but she takes a rather pedestrian approach here. The dramatic tension is a bit uneven, particularly the scenes of Tony in rehabilitation. The screenplay itself is okay but nothing special—I’ve seen this movie before. What really makes My King soar is its players, especially the leads. Bercot and Cassel are expressive, engaging, and raw. They’re totally convincing and sympathetic, and watching them interact is a treat. This would be a forgettable film without them.
(Gene Siskel Film Center) B-