Unfortunately, A Little Chaos has limited distribution. It was only showing in one theater where I live in downtown. I could have taken public transit and walked five blocks to get to the venue but kept putting it off. Good that I did, because A Little Chaos is currently streaming for $6.99 on Amazon with a run time of 1:53 minutes.
It’s an interesting and unique story about a woman named Sabine, who has a gift for gardening. Yes, she has a quaint little backyard of flowers and trees, but her real talent is that of a landscape artist. She applies for the opportunity to work in the gardens of Versailles.
After obtaining the position, she is charged by the head architect, Andre (played by Matthias Schoenaerts who was just in Far From the Madding Crowd), to work on a special project that the two eventually design together. The fact that Sabine was a woman of great talent did not mean that her task was an easy one, but it was eventually successful.
However, underneath Sabine is a woman of great sadness. She is a widow and has also lost her daughter of six years of age. The reason for her family’s passing isn’t revealed until the end of the movie. How it occurs is heartbreaking, so I won’t spoil that part in case you decide to watch the movie.
Of course, Andre, who is unhappily married to another woman, who possesses less than a stellar character, falls in love with Sabine. At first she resists because of her sorrow from the past, but eventually discovers solace and comfort in his arms.
Kate Winslet does the movie great charm. Her portrayal of Sabine is nothing but brilliant as all her movies. There is one particular scene that literally brought me to tears where she is among a group of women from the King’s court. The ladies sit together and talk about what ladies talk about, but the conversation turns toward whether she is married and has children. Sabine, of course, can barely choke out the truth, and it is then that the majority of the woman in the room relay to her their sorrow of lost children of their own due to smallpox or other tragedies. It is so touching, I could barely keep from crying. Sabine is deeply moved when she realizes that she is not the only woman carrying such a deep burden of grief.
As the movie continues, you are made aware of her gracious character, wisdom, and kindness to others that eventually lead her to a road of healing. Yes, the movie is about the gorgeous gardens of Versailles, but it also much more. The story is rich with sidelines about others who are close to the King as well.
Alan Rickman plays Louis, but he also directs the movie. As beautifully touching as the story is at times, you may find it a bit slow in movement. There is construction of her portion of the garden, her interaction with the King and his court, her blossoming love for Andre, that all move toward the end at a leisurely pace. Some may like it — some may not. I wanted to push it a bit myself but later scenes redeemed whatever discomfort I felt while waiting for the story to unfold.
You will see many characters played by British actors that you will recognize – Rupert Penry-Jones (Captain Wentworth in Jane Austen’s Persuasion); Steven Waddington (who played the Duke of Buckingham in The Tudors); Adrian Scarborough (who has done his share of British television roles including Midsomer Murders); Stanely Tucci (who has been in plenty of movie roles that you can remember); and many other well-known faces. What you may find a bit unsettling is the majority of the cast lacking French accents from British and American actors, however, there are a few women who do have one.
Nevertheless, the costumes are quite stunning as well as the scenery and sets. The production was filmed in England at nine locations (click here to see where), including Hampton Court, which I immediately recognized the exterior and interior.
If you’re looking for a touching, but not spectacular period movie, you may want to check this one out.