Chuck Palahniuk says we have no scar to show for happiness. Pain exhibits itself in heartache, tears, broken legs or tormented hours, yet how do we quantify our moments of sheer, fleeting happiness? We barely acknowledge them and even when they slap us hard in the face, we keep too numb or too quiet for fear they might be stolen or sieved. We are used to over analyzing, dismantling, filtering every feeling into the very essence of its nature. We are humanly prone to relive every aspect and detail of our conversations, relationships and feelings in an attempt to cross-pollinate to other feelings, other discussions, other snippets of ourselves or the ones close to us. Happiness is something that eludes us.
In Mon roi, it is the exceptional way a rather ordinary story is built, fractured, glued back and then denuded that makes it worth watching. It is the female character that almost kills herself to survive not only the bad blood of her love story but her own feelings. Getting well takes her away from the painful routine and gives her time to scrutinize the decade she spent in the company of a man who crowned himself king only to emerge as a scoundrel. What saved him as a character is the jester like moments that made her laugh and kept him at ease. In between, addiction to drugs, other women and the need to put himself first prevailed.
This does not make the story of the movie any different than perhaps other stories. It is love gone bad and it comes off as nothing new. It is again important how one surfaces the relation and he/she chooses to move on. In this respect, one of the final scenes where Georgio and Toni meet their son's teacher for a short evaluation, is something that stays with you long after the movie ends. Georgio and Toni have reached a point of tolerance and acceptance of their gains and losses. He ignores her, though in the eyes of the others, he admits his son takes after her in some respects. She tries to engage in a conversation with him but he chooses not to see her. So her eyes lovingly deconstruct every feature of his face, the way his eyes light up and his mouth moves, the way he breathes and then takes a halt to inhale. For a moment, fleeting and mutely happy, she finds a shred of the man she fell in love with.
The gift of the director, Maiwenn, is to give all involved parties, let alone the main actors, Vincent Cassel and Emmanuelle Bercot, a chance to improvise and add their input to the making of the picture. Both actors have the easiness and the talent to speak lines as they feel without the constraints of a script that might feel unnatural at times. The tender and the sparkling cling together and then crash in an erratic flow of flashbacks and reminiscing details of their tumultuous love. It is a fair, over-toned anatomy of a relationship that might bother some and intrigue others to the point of jealousy, yet it is well acted. It comes with its own nemesis -the idea that women are bound to surrender to adoring men in order to take a taste at that ravishing love that shatters worlds only to point to their own fragility. It is probably going to take some time until women, educated, successful, beautiful are given the right to be in control more, for a change. Instead, they stand bewitched and charmed by men who claim to rule their worlds as mighty kings.