Tuesday 9 January 2024

REVIEW: Napoleon (2023 Film) - Starring Joaquin Phoenix and Vanessa Kirby

Out Now on Apple TV - https://apple.co/3NXeMXf

Review by Jon Donnis
"Napoleon," directed and produced by Ridley Scott and written by David Scarpa, is a 2023 epic historical drama that delves into the life of the iconic French leader. The film, starring Joaquin Phoenix as Napoleon and Vanessa Kirby as Joséphine, offers a visually stunning portrayal of the era, combining historical events with a focus on Napoleon's personal life.

The plot unfolds against the backdrop of the French Revolution, showcasing key moments such as the Siege of Toulon and the Battle of the Pyramids. The film skillfully weaves together political intrigue, military conquests, and personal relationships, capturing Napoleon's rise to power and his complex marriage to Joséphine. The narrative explores the challenges faced by the couple, from infidelity and political maneuvering to the eventual dissolution of their marriage.

Joaquin Phoenix's performance as Napoleon is commendable, bringing depth and charisma to the character. Vanessa Kirby equally shines as Joséphine, portraying the complexity of her relationship with the French leader. The supporting cast, including Tahar Rahim, Rupert Everett, and Ben Miles, adds strength to the ensemble, providing nuanced portrayals of historical figures.

The film's cinematography is a standout element, capturing the grandeur of the era with breathtaking visuals. The attention to detail in the sets and scenery enhances the immersive experience, transporting the audience to 18th and 19th-century France. The action sequences are well-executed, contributing to the film's dynamic pace.

However, the film does have its drawbacks. The lengthy runtime of 157 minutes may test the patience of some viewers, and despite the epic nature of the story, it feels like the narrative could have been more tightly edited. Some scenes, particularly those featuring violence and bloodshed, may be unsettling for certain audiences. Additionally, the film's historical accuracy comes under scrutiny, with some events portrayed in a questionable manner.

Joaquin Phoenix's occasional moments of almost slapstick humour add a unique touch to the film, offering a brief respite from the intensity of the historical events. While this may not align with the serious tone expected from a historical drama, it introduces an interesting perspective and adds a layer of complexity to the character of Napoleon.

In conclusion, "Napoleon" is a visually stunning and well-acted historical drama with a captivating narrative. Despite its flaws in pacing, violence, and historical accuracy, the film succeeds in delivering an entertaining portrayal of Napoleon's life. Whether you're a history buff (so you can point out inaccuracies) or simply looking for an engaging epic, "Napoleon" is worth a watch, earning a fair score of 7 out of 10.

Out Now on Apple TV - https://apple.co/3NXeMXf
And also on Amazon - https://amzn.to/48Gcfs8