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 from gangrene, surrounded by his doctors and closest advisors, speaking in frantic, whispered tones about their options, in an era in which little is known of such illnesses.
Albert Serra's new film, The Death of Louis XIV, is an adaptation of the Duc de Saint-Simon’s memoirs, starring Jean-Pierre Léaud as the Sun-King. The cult actor, who worked with all major directors from the Nouvelle Vague after being discovered in Truffaut's The 400 Blows, plays the dying king who can barely move from his bed in the Château de Versailles. His relatives and his closest counsellors come in turns at his bedside, but he attends only a few meetings and can barely rule his kingdom. His secret wife Madame de Maintenon, and his doctor Fagon dread his last breath and try to hide it from the public, to preserve the future of France. Shot in rich colour with extraordinary lighting, Jean-Pierre Léaud, in his costume, hair and poses, fully embodies the last few days of the longest serving king of France, who, with his seventy two years in power, changed the face of the monarchy and of France.
Cannes Film Festival, Official Selection, Special Screening
Best Film, International Competition, Jerusalem Film Festival
London Film Festival 2016, 'Dare'