The Death of Louis XIV
Directed by Albert Serra
August 1715. After going for a walk, Louis XIV feels a pain in his leg. The next days, the king keeps fulfilling his duties and obligations, but his sleep is troubled and he has a serious fever. He barely eats and weakens increasingly. This is the start of the slow agony of the greatest king of France, surrounded by his relatives and doctors.
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★★★★ review by Redfern on Letterboxd
Serra's Louis XIV is quite the opposite to Rossellini's; where Patte moved with bold grace and gestural precision, Léaud is static - unable to move without the aid of his valet or many sycophants. The power that was once shaped by presence is now wholly abstract, a grunting, fat old man lying in bed and moaning for water. Serra stages Louis' slow and painful death in a single room where the lights are soft and dim and barely illuminate the entirety of the space. Indeed, Léaud yields up Louis' soul without any effort, like a candle going out before being picked apart by the buzzards.
★★★★ review by Filipe Furtado on Letterboxd
The frailty of man and the ceremonial of death. Leaud (as usual as much an avatar of Nouvelle Vague vitality as an actor) wasting away at the hands of rigorous current cinema. The pastoral horror mood of Story of my Death applied to radical different space. A study on stillness and the relationship between drained colors and reds. The more Serra takes away, the closer his film comes to become a formalist thriller.
★★★★ review by 🔮 dana danger 🔮 on Letterboxd
A body horror movie in which a pampered king is forced to lay in bed and experience his body rot from the inside out. The monarchic poison running through his veins kills him.
Jean-Pierre Leaud gives a masterful performance - it seems, especially near the end, like he’s doing nothing at all, but it’s a portrayal of a prolonged, painful, clouded death that some viewers (myself included) will recognize in the pit of their stomach. Has any other actor ever given such definitive performances so early and so late in their career?
★★★★ review by Jonathan Rosenbaum on Letterboxd
★★★★ review by Sebastian Klein on Letterboxd
The Death of Louis XIV is hard fare. The patient viewer is rewarded with great images, images that resemble paintings and sometimes remind of Kubrick's Barry Lyndon.
In the end, after a long period of suffering, the viewer will be left with a clear message: No matter if king or normal person: in death we are all the same, nobody can escape him.
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