The Sloth recently read a review referring to Matthias Schoenaerts as the ‘hunk du jour’ and we laughed a lot. For indeed, whilst The Gosling has been off having a baby break, the brooding Belgian has cunningly cornered his market, staring moodily out from the screen of every cinema we’ve wandered into. A Little Chaos sees his reign continue.
Set in the grand echelons of the Palace of Versailles, A Little Chaos follows the gardening exploits of King Louis XIV (Alan Rickman). Not quite content with the magnificence of the Palace alone, Louis decides he wants the gardens to be equally splendid so issues a commission for some new landscape designs. Alongside the great and good garden designers of the day one relative unknown, Sabine de Barra (Kate Winslet), takes up the challenge, proposing a radical design based – gasp – on letting a bit of natural disorder creep into the rigidly regimented style of the time. Louis is not convinced but fortunately head gardener André Le Notre (Matthias Schoenaerts), buys into Sabine’s vision and convinces Louis to give her a go.
What follows is part cerebral meditation on the meaning and purpose of art and part romantic drama as, needless to say, André isn’t simply enamoured with Sabine’s nifty way with a bit of privet hedging. Similarly, Louis is caught by Sabine’s naive simplicity and earnestness in contrast to the conniving vixens and villains at play within his court.
Kate Winslet, natch, does her pouty corset / messy hair thing with a bit of mud on her skirt for added characterisation. And Alan Rickman was born to be The Sun King – The Sloth can’t think of anyone else so inherently grand and both strangely sexless yet highly camp at the same time. Kind of like a regal newt.
A Little Chaos at times takes itself A Little Seriously but, flippancy aside, it does raise some genuinely interesting questions on how our perceptions of nature, beauty and art have changed over the ages. Ideas and aesthetics we take for granted now were radical, once upon a time. And if that doesn’t do it for you, maybe Matthias Cheesecake will.
UK release 14 April