Documenting the life of a historical figure is often a challenging task.
The need to cast the right talent is a key aspect but there is also the matter of finding a balance between recapping their life as well as giving audiences new viewpoints to consider.
In the new film “Napoleon”, Director Ridley Scott attempts to balance the story between the man who became Emperor of France and was a skilled
a military leader with a story about a man captivated by a woman who occupied most of his thoughts.
Joaquin Phoenix is a captivating Napoleon and gives an impressive performance but at times I did wonder if his voice suited the character he
was playing as there were no attempts to bring an accent into play.
The visuals of the film capture the era well from the streets of France where Napoleon put down local uprisings to his campaigns in Egypt as his
legend and influence grew. The core of the film is his relationship with Josephine (Vanessa Kirby), who has Napoleon utterly smitten but seems to be able to distance herself from him easily enough to find companions
whenever he is away.
The film mixes epic battle sequences and political dynamics very well
to give the audience the state of the world where family entanglements and
political alliances can pivot on a whim.
The film portrays Napoleon as someone who wants peace yet ironically his tactics and success in battle derail this as it fosters mistrust and alliances against him which is also pushed by a perceived lack of manners and political tact by other nations.
From start to finish the film was captivating and while I would have liked a bit more time on some areas such as his exiles, seeing the man sitting
around does not make for good cinema and Scott wisely focused on the love story between him and Josephine and his epic campaigns which are thrilling
to see unfold.
From start to finish the film sparkles as an award contender and the powerful and compelling performance of Phoenix is one for the ages.
4.5 stars out of 5