It had been the main topic of conversation since before the start of the Cannes Film Festival 2023: Johnny Depp, protagonist of Jeanne duBarry, together with its also director, Maiwenn. The return of the former king of Hollywood, after his famous scandals, trials, accusations of mistreatment, as king of France.
Specifically, Depp plays in Jeanne-du-Barry King Louis XV during his last years of life and his relationship with his last lover, the Countess du Barry who gives the film its title and who is played by the French actress and filmmaker Maïwenn (Polish, my love) which has also recently (and in the past) been surrounded by controversy. So, Jeanne-du-Barry It is his very clear way of saying to everyone: we don’t care, we’re still here and we’ll continue doing what we want and how we want.
“It’s my body”, a teenage Jeanne blurts out very seriously to her mother when she asks her to undress in front of an artist. She gets naked, but she will do it when and how she wants. “The debauchery made her a woman and free,” she says shortly after the omnipresent voice-over when the protagonist is already a well-known lady-in-waiting.
From being nobody, an illegitimate daughter of a cook and a monk, to being the king’s favorite at Versailles, married to a Count to receive better treatment at court. A long path dictated by her and with which Maïwenn makes it clear that he identifies. And it becomes very clear why she, moreover, she chose Johnny Depp as her on-screen partner of hers. It is not necessary that they explain much more in the press conference or in the interviews, although surely they will not remain very quiet either. It is easy to read between images, in details. Easily or dangerously attractive.
my dear countess
Jeanne-du-Barry It’s a period film. A royal court film, with wigs and large dresses. Nothing stands out or pretends to do so in its staging. Voiceover, classic look, only Maïwenn’s own presence and her interpretation as an almost contemporary woman, but with a corset it breaks a bit (and distracts) so much formula. Love and sex in the court, nothing that, to speak of something very recent and fashionable, fans of The Bridgertons are not used to seeing
But, of course, there is Johnny Depp. Perhaps we were expecting the actor doing a parody of himself, as he has accustomed us to. And there are little moments in the film where it eludes him, but overall he’s very contained in a role that required him to be: he’s the King of France. He doesn’t speak much either, few words, short sentences, good French. It must be of some use to have a French ex-wife and bilingual children.
The return of the King
There was great expectation around the film and, above all, around this first big public appearance by Depp. The Cannes Film Festival has defended itself or thrown balls out in the face of criticism for opening with a film starring him. His arrival at the Palais has cleared up any fear they might have about his decision. Up to there only absolute fans of the actor approached. The screams and posters of “Long live Johnny” they crowned him again as king. And he has taken advantage and gloated. He has had a good time taking selfies and signing autographs. Between applause.
Minutes later, his entrance into the Grand Théatre Lumière room has not been so effusive. Perhaps it was a matter of sound, but those gathered there and guests were not all so convinced to applaud the stars of the night.
And yet, at the end of the screening, according to Variety and his tireless stopwatch, received seven minutes of applause. Depp, grinning from ear to ear, and almost in tears. Like his director. A triumph of kings. And what did we expect? They were not going to be guillotined. At least it wasn’t going to happen here in Cannes. That was obvious. Here, Johnny Depp is king again and no one seems to turn their backs on him. As to his Louis XV of his.
It tells the story of Jeanne Bécu, the illegitimate daughter of a poor seamstress in 1743 who ended up causing scandal at the court of King Louis XV, whose lover she became.
Script: Maiwenn, Teddy Lussi-Modeste, Nicolas Livecchi
Cast: Maiwenn, Johnny Depp, Melvil Poupaud, Pierre Richard, Pascal Greggory, Noémie Lvovsky
Duration: 113 min.