“A Little Chaos” is a 17th century-set costume drama that is handsomely mounted, filled with dignified performances and ample longing.
It’s also stupefyingly boring, as only a movie might be that seeks to qualify the “chaos” in its title with the adjective “little.”
The title is mystifying. Did director Alan Rickman, who co-wrote and co-stars here as French King Louis XIV, want to make sure we knew that there really isn’t much chaos here? That there’d be some drama, but nothing to get the proverbial hair mussed?
If so, well, it’s truth in advertising, because the film concerns the very serious Sabine de Barra (Kate Winslet) as she is hired by the equally dour André Le Notre (Matthias Schoenaerts) to, yes, help construct a garden at Versailles.
A romance of sorts develops, with Rickman’s king standing on the sidelines and offering droll observations about perennials and other garden staples.
Audiences equally passionate about costume dramas and gardening might find this thrilling. For the rest of us, it offers little beyond grand production values, including sweeping shots of the Versailles grounds and scenes from the king’s court rich with verisimilitude, and the always dependable Winslet, who does all that she can to turn an individual written as a withdrawn, damaged woman into a person of strength.
Rickman is surely a fine director, and there are many worthy stories to be told from Versailles, but the construction of a garden just isn’t one of them.