**Bien sur** the biggest reason to watch this movie is Paris-born blonde Judith Godreche. Not a great actress but oh, that face, and those boobs so generously displayed in period costume. She was twenty-three when the film was shot but looks younger. Mlle. Godreche was to appear opposite superstar Leonardo Di Caprio in "The Man in the Iron Mask" two years after this. Had she been easier to work with and taken a few acting lessons she might have made movies in Hollywood earning ten times what the miserly French would pay. She does not have enough scenes here--one of this ornate and overlong film's several shortcomings.
Apart from the obligatory love triangle sub-plot, the story concerns a country gentleman **cum** engineer who decides he must petition King Louis XVI, France's last absolute monarch, to obtain financial backing for his scheme to drain the swamps in his home region and so rid it of the mosquito infestation and fevers that make life there near impossible. While nearing the Royal Palace at Versailles this young man, played adequately if not electrifyingly by Charles Berling, is the victim of an eighteenth century mugging.
The hero is next seen at the house of a well-connected doctor, who later agrees to take him in and instruct him in the art of witty repartee which will be his **entree** to the royal court. Played by cinema veteran Jean Rochefort, the doctor as a physician is no better than his times and treats the young man's injuries by thoroughly, almost fatally, bleeding him. The hero, however is well ahead of his time having apparently made the connection between mosquitoes and malaria, at least fifty years before anyone else!
The doctor has a beautiful daughter (Mlle. Godreche) but she is betrothed at the film's start to a very wealthy noble not twice but three times her age. The reason why she and her father agree to this union is not credible but it does lead to a brief scene in a notary's office, authentic to the last quill pen, where the three of them hammer out what would today be called a **pre-nup**.
Essential for any period film, the **decors**, costumes, makeup all are faultless.
After an endless succession of parties, formal dinners, royal audiences and a masked ball, it all works out for the best--apparently. We know from history that the rainwater pools of the Dombe region were significantly reduced in extent and life there improved just after the Revolution.
It is worth mentioning that the third side of the triangle is a Pompadour-type character, a political mistress to the King, played well enough given the material by the tall and elegant, forty- something Fany Ardant.
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