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Film / Kings & Queen

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Kings and Queen (Rois et Reine in French) is a 2004 French drama film directed by Arnaud Desplechin.

Nora Cotterelle (Emmanuelle Devos), a woman in her 30s, is caring for her ill father, Louis Jenssens (Maurice Garrel). While Nora tries to present a facade that all is well with her life, she is both widowed and divorced, and has a son, Elias, whose father she married posthumously note . Elias has behavior problems due to his autism, and Nora is soon to marry a wealthy man.

A parallel storyline follows Nora's former lover, Ismaël Vuillard (Mathieu Amalric), a musician, with whom she had lived for seven years. His strange behaviour gets him interned in a psychiatric hospital, from which he plans to escape. He also has to regularly see a psychiatrist, Dr. Vasset (Catherine Deneuve).


Nora learns that her father is dying of cancer, and she desperately seeks out Ismaël to ask that he reconnect with Elias, but he has mixed feelings about adopting her son. Ismaël also starts bonding with Arielle, another patient.

Kings and Queen provides examples of:

  • Driven to Suicide: Pierre Cotterelle, the first fiancé of Nora, commits suicide by shooting his own heart with a revolver out of the awful life Nora made him live during her pregnancy, which she did not want. Granted Pierre was already pretty crazy to begin with, but Nora just pushed him over the edge with the nasty words she whispered in his ears while he was trying to sleep after days full of hard work.
  • Dull Surprise: Nora has very limited facial expressions in many scenes where she should be either angry, devastated or happy. Mostly she internalizes everything and maintains a facade.
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  • Eccentric Artist: Ismaël is an oddball musician. So oddball and antisocial that his sister uses this to get rid of him, by having him put in a psychiatric hospital against his will.
  • Functional Addict: Maître Marc Mamanne (Ismaël's lawyer, played by Hippolyte Girardot) does his job very well, and he's following a treatment for his cocaine addiction. Ismaël helps him steal opioid replacements in the psychiatric hospital's stocks.
  • I Have No Daughter!: Nora's father Louis expresses all the disdain he has for her in a message he wrote before his death.
  • Karma Houdini: Bar her dying father's rejection, Nora suffers no comeuppance for all the nasty consequences of her verbal poisoning of the life of several people, especially the suicide of Pierre.
  • Misogyny: Ismaël's "Women have no soul" talk to Dr. Vasset more or less comes off as this.
  • Mood Whiplash: The film alternates between Nora's scenes, which are full of drama regarding her personal life and the way she is perceived as poisonous by her close ones, and Ismaël's scenes, which, while having him being put in a mental hospital against his will, are mostly lighter in tone, if not humorous for some.
  • Parental Issues: All over the place, from Nora's issues with her father and her difficult parenting of Elias to Ismaël's and his sister's issues with their mother.
  • Self-Harm: Arielle slit her own wrists' veins (which caused her to be interned in the psychiatric hospital), but it wasn't a suicide attempt according to her, rather a "call for help".
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Ismaël is quite the cultured man and loves using complicated words to express himself, and tries to teach some to Elias.
  • Spontaneous Choreography: During a group therapy, Ismaël pulls off a surprisingly good breakdancing choregraphy on Marley Marl's "Do u remember".
  • Truth in Television: Posthumous marriage is possible in France, under some very exceptional conditions.
  • Voiceover Letter: Nora's father's letter is posthumously read with his voice.


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