Hilary Swank, Simon Baker-Denny, Adrien Brody, Jonathan
Pryce, Joely Richardson
Detailing the events that led to the downfall of Marie Antoinette
(Richardson), The Affair of the Necklace is the story
of Jeanne de la Motte-Valois, who plots to gain favor so that
she can regain her family name. Hilary Swank plays Valois,
who, as a young girl, saw her father slain and family home
taken from her in the monarchy's attempt to destroy her family's
once-proud name. Because of this, Valois tries to have her
name and home restored to her through legal means within the
monarchy, but when she's denied, she plots to gain favor with
Cardinal Rohan (Pryce) so she can use him. As things unfold,
Valois and her lover/confidant Rétaux de la Villette (Baker)
come in possession of a necklace which two jewelers have gone
into debt to make and when they can't get Marie Antoinette
to purchase it, they turn to Valois, who uses the necklace
as part of her plot.
Affair has the benefit of being filmed wonderfully.
The lighting is often soft and filtered, giving each shot
a dreamy atmosphere to it. Sets and costumes are lush and
well done. The whole visual design is executed well and gives
the viewer a wonderful show that does not detract in any way
from the story.
The story is told at a fairly fast pace, so much so that
a lot of things seem to be glossed over and taken for granted.
The love affair between Valois and Villette is shallow and
never really fleshed out. There is only one instance where
you might think they actually have any true affections for
each other. A lot of the bit characters are a nice garnish
to the main story and add something in their time on the screen.
Walken's soothsayer Cagliostro is a joyful addition in that
his own con on the Cardinal becomes a part of Valois.
The main story is a fairly interesting tale, but I think
a lot of it comes across as shallow and circumstantial by
the fact that it's told with such a speedy pace. If the script
was given a slower pace and told with more focus on the characters,
it would have given more impetus on the intrigue of the plot.
None of the main characters really standout as original or
striking. They're played well, but it feels like they've done
this all before. Both Pryce and Richardson feel like they've
played this role before and Swank is good as Valois, but she
never makes the standout performance that this character really
could incite. None of this is the fault of the actors, though,
as the script seems to leave no room for embellishment of
As timepiece movies go, this one is a good watch, but it won't
hold up against some of the better, more passionate films
that have come before. Directed and filmed well, with a fine
soundtrack and adequate performances all around, The Affair
of the Necklace is entertaining. If you're interested, give
this one a look into.