Unfortunately, there isn’t actually any chaos, creativity or intrigue. It’s an awfully plodding and well mannered period piece which culminates in a Mills & Boon crafted romance and a rather dull looking garden. It’s like a particularly tedious episode of Ground Force, without the tight time restriction, or the suspense of wondering whether the people will like the unnecessary water feature. And if Titchmarsh and Dimmock got up to a little hanky panky.
Kate Winslet stars as Sabine, a landscape gardner charged with creating a new garden for King Louis XIV’s palace at Versailles. Already the stakes are low and it’s impossible to become invested in the petty problems of these stuffy aristocrats. This is only Alan Rickman’s second outing in the director’s chair, following up his 1997 debut The Winter Guest. It’s hard to imagine how after an 18 year absence he couldn’t have been attracted to anything a bit more interesting. Winslet shares no chemistry with her gardening love interest played by Matthias Schoenaerts, it’s a completely insipid and phoney relationship. If a bunch of 17th century French aristocrats can speak perfect English then surely the same artistic license could be granted to abolish those god awful, repulsive male wigs? Yet no doubt the film will draw plaudits for its ‘gorgeous costumes’ (code for utterly lifeless). The wigs really are hideous and just one more reason why these wealthy dullards do not belong on the big screen. The film concludes with a triumphant shot of the supposedly ‘magnificent’ garden that the film’s spent the last decade of your life constructing. A bit of Tommy Walsh’s trademark decking would have seriously spiced things up.
Review by David Rank
A Little Chaos is out on now in the UK and out on 26th June in the US. Running time 117 mins. Certificate 12A (UK).