It’s ironic that the country that produced the novels The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo had to rely on Britain and America to offer cinematic versions of Dumas’s two most famous novels, while France seemed content to ignore the swash and the buckle. However, French New Wave pioneer Phillipe de Broca comes to the rescue with this charming adventure that Fairbanks and Flynn would have been happy to adorn.
Daniel Auteuil stars as Lagardere, feted as the finest swordsman in the land, but when he challenges the Duc de Nevers (Vincent Perez), he meets his match. Humbled, he ends up serving him but soon finds himself entangled in Never’s affairs, involving the Duc’s evil cousin Gonzague (Fabrice Luchini), who seduces the Duc’s wife Blanche (Claire Nebout). Now, a child from the union stands between Gonzague and the family fortune. Honour-bound to defend the child, Lagardere steals her away from certain death. But years later, when she is now the beautiful Aurore (Marie Gillain) and he disguised as a hunchback, the time has come for him to return in secret, bring down Gonzague and return her to her fortune…
The outcome is never in doubt but all the leads plays their allotted roles to the hilt, with Luchini suitably more cynically world-weary than overtly evil, Auteuil athletic and witty, Gillain suitably gorgeous as the wronged heroine and some of the best sword-fights seen for many a year.
France / 1997
Director: Phillippe de Broca
Writers: Phillippe de Broca, Jean Cosmos
Cast: Daniel Auteuil, Vincent Perez, Fabrice Luchini, Marie Gillain