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  • Ridicule [VHS]
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Ridicule [VHS]

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Product Details

  • Actors: Charles Berling, Jean Rochefort, Fanny Ardant, Judith Godrèche, Bernard Giraudeau
  • Directors: Patrice Leconte
  • Writers: Eric Vicaut, Michel Fessler, Rémi Waterhouse
  • Producers: Frédéric Brillion, Gilles Legrand, Philippe Carcassonne
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, HiFi Sound, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Subtitles: English
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Walt Disney Video
  • VHS Release Date: August 25, 1998
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6304438184
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #486,909 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Nominated for an Academy Award(R) (Best Foreign Language Film, 1996) and honored by critics as one of the year's 10 best motion pictures, RIDICULE is an exceptionally entertaining tale of passion and deceit! In a desperate quest to save his hometown, a young man quickly learns that a sharp wit is the key to open any door in the Versailles court of Louis XVI! But his mission is complicated when he finds himself locked in a dangerous triangle with two very seductive ladies: a sophisticated older woman who can help him ... and an innocent young beauty with nothing to offer but her love! Wickedly funny humor and outstanding performances highlight this must-see triumph!


In Patrice Leconte's cool, precise moral comedy Ridicule, the corrupt, sycophantic court of King Louis XVI is invaded by a provincial nobleman, Ponceludon de Malavoy (Charles Berling), who with the help of his own sharp tongue, the coaching of the retired courtier Marquis de Bellegarde (Jean Rochefort), and the love of the Marquis's beautiful, nature-loving daughter (Judith Godrèche) hopes to win funds for his project to drain the fever-infested swamps of his homeland. But first he has to get by the cunning, sexually manipulative Madame de Blayac (Fanny Ardant, imperious and superb) and her waspish, priestly ally, the Abbot de Vilecourt (Bernard Giraudeau).

As shaped by screenwriter Rémi Waterhouse, Ridicule is a kind of dashing verbal swashbuckler in which duels aren't fought with swords, but with the equally fatal weapon of words--rapier wit in its most literal sense. Laconte directs with an appealing elegance and a scathing sobriety as he unfolds a fable that could just as easily take place in a Wall Street boardroom, a Park Avenue executive suite, or a Hollywood commissary. --Dave Kehr

Customer Reviews

Wit gains favor and funding, ridicule results in banishment from the court.
Choice Critic
The script is smart, the lines are very witty, the cast is great, the sets and costumes are just right, and it looks good.
What makes this film such a delight is the delicious way it satirizes the decadent court of Louis XVI.
Dennis Littrell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

86 of 87 people found the following review helpful By H. M Pyles on November 10, 2003
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
It's the waning days of the old regime in France. A conscientious but impoverished nobleman from the south travels to Versailles to petition the royal government for funds to drain his swamps so that his tenants can be spared periodic outbreaks of disease. Instead of finding the sympathetic ears he expected, he finds a government nearing bankruptcy, a well-intentioned but befuddled king who is surrounded by a bureaucracy trying to temper the king's naive generosity and stave off the final collapse, and an aristocracy that has descended into a depraved comedy of manners. All substantive thought at court has been replaced by endless games of witticisms, whereby a person's social standing and political access are functions of mastering the art of the putdown . . . preferrably in as ascerbic a manner as possible.
To everyone's surprise -- including his own -- our hero turns out to be quite good at the art of malicious wit. First trying to use his new-found talent to speed up his campaign to drain his swamps, he soon succumbs to the appeal of the game for the game's sake. A series of events eventually snaps him back to reality, and therein lies the plot of the piece.
This is a supremely engaging costume piece. The cast is superb, the settings and costumes dead-on accurate, the dialog entertaining and sophisticated. In the end, it's really a gorgeously-filmed morality play about the triumph of conscience over wealth, power, and hollow social graces. The only real fault with the movie from a historical perspective is that it portrays Louis XVI as the affable nitwit of popular legend instead of the serious monarch overwhelmed by ultimately uncontrollable events that he really was.
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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 27, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
This reminds me a lot of Dangerous Liaisons (1988) and Valmont (1989) in its cynicism and sharp wit. Set in France during the same time period (the eve of the French Revolution--that's the eighteenth century, reviewers), Ridicule concentrates not so much on sexual intrigues (although there is plenty of that) but on cynical wit as though in homage to Voltaire, France's master of satire whose spirit is suffused throughout.

First a warning. Don't let the rather gross crudity of the opening scene mislead you. That is meant merely as satire, not as a presaging of further crudities to come. It is also meant as a kind of cinematic joke since there is no comparable female nudity in the entire film. Indeed, there is no comparable, shall we say "expression," anywhere in legitimate filmdom that I am aware of. So let it pass or close your eyes.

Charles Berling stars as Gregoire Ponceludon de Malavoy, a country engineer who comes to Versailles to get financial backing to drain a swamp to save the peasants who are dying of mosquito-borne disease. ("Peasants feed aristocrats as well as mosquitos.") He discovers very quickly that a way to an audience with Louis XVI is through gaining a reputation as a clever courtier. Guided by M. Bellegarde (Jean Rochefort), a retired courtier himself, Ponceludon quickly picks up the games of wit and ridicule that reign at court. His quick and clever mind and youthful good looks gain the attention of the king's mistress, Madame de Blayac (Fanny Ardant) who demonstrates how access to the king can come through her bedroom. Ponceludon is sincere only in his desire to drain the swamp and so readily allows himself to become another of Blayac's lovers in exchange for a chance to present his program to Louis XVI.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By C. O. DeRiemer TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 6, 2004
Format: DVD
Ridicule is a French film which takes place in 1783, a few years before Louis XVI lost the ability to wear a hat; where "...in this country, vices are without consequence, but ridicule can kill." The film is about the effect of wit and word play on people's lives and careers. Malicious, mannered and highly enjoyable. Charles Berling, Jean Rochefort, Bernard Giraudeau and Fanny Ardant are excellent. A man would be a fool not to want to bed Ardant, and even more a fool to trust her.

The film is sumptuously mounted and the DVD transfer does it justice. The dialogue is so clever a knowledge of French might be in order, but the English subtitles do a superb job of conveying the witty, cruel, self-serving word play.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 20, 2005
Format: DVD
RIDICULE deserved all the lavish praise it engendered upon its release in 1996. As a period piece (France in the final throes of King Louis XVI) it is one of the finest - visually, contextually, musically, AND it is wonderfully intelligent! Unlike many period pieces that serve as elegant decoration for meager stories, RIDICULE carries pungent statements about the decline of aristocracy and the whispers of the cause of democracy.

A poor humanitarian travels from the ill swamps of Southern France to the court of Versailles to seek funding from the Royal Court to correct the deplorable living conditions ignored by the King. Upon arrival he finds a vapid society diverting attention from problems that plague the kingdom by inventing word games whose purpose is to find who can is best able to ridicule the fellow shallow players of this verbal chess game. Finding he has the gift to outclass the court with his verbal wit our humanitarian is 'accepted' into nobility and spars with the finest. For a while our humanitarian's focus is diffused by women, duels, and other diversions of the court until he finally regroups his cause and returns to the suffering sector from whence he came...with the ability to correct the conditions at last.

The cast of Director Patrice Laconte's gem is exemplary and includes such fine actors as Charles Berling, Fanny Ardant, Jean Rochefort, Judith Godrèche, Bernard Giraudeau, and the mute role so sensitively performed by Bruno Zanardi (the one constant presence who keeps us reminded of just how absurdly low the court of France has fallen).
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