Affair of the Necklace

6.11 h 57 min2001R
The controversial true story of Jeanne De La Motte Valois stars Hilary Swank, as a countess whose name and title were stripped from her by the Royal Family, leaving her penniless.
Charles Shyer
Hilary SwankJonathan PryceSimon Baker
English [CC]
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Supporting actors
Adrien BrodyBrian CoxJoely RichardsonChristopher Walken
Charles ShyerRedmond MorrisAndrew A. KosoveBroderick Johnson
R (Restricted)
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4.2 out of 5 stars

563 global ratings

  1. 61% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 17% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 11% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 6% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 5% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

NeemReviewed in the United States on April 22, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
Loosely Based on French history
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Love the fact that this story is based on an actual events though it didn't hold true to very many of the details of the story. For example Jeanne was born to a poor family though she was descended from a royal line. So the whole thing about her beautiful home having been taken by the nobility for their own profit was not true. Jeanne was a clever and unscrupulous individual and not the ill treated noble comtesse she pretended to be.

I didn't care for the casting of Hilary Swank. I would have cast a much more delicate beauty for this part, particularly as she was playing opposite Simon Baker whose stature was somewhat overwhelmed by hers. But the acting was good on the part of the entire cast. Though I would have, again, cast someone of a smaller stature with less angular features as Marie Antoinette and I could go on. It was a very entertaining film on the whole. But don't assume you learned any historical facts from it because it was very contrived.
14 people found this helpful
JDReviewed in the United States on February 17, 2015
2.0 out of 5 stars
A Shallow Confection
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Visually exciting as far as camera work and costuming but poor production. Narration, pacing, and even the soundtrack seems more appropriate for a made for tv movie. The acting is good but the script is poorly written. Throughout the movie we hear British slang and phrases. I found it funny that the actress who pretends to be queen has a sort of cockney accent in order to show that she's not a noblewoman with perfect speech. This is supposed to take place in France!

Very little of the movie is historically accurate, as pointed out by other reviewers. If it had been, it'd be a very short movie since we will never know many of the facts to do with the affair. There's a lot of scheming and plotting and a dramatic romantic element which is basically filler. In reality, very people are who they say they are, and this is no different. It would be nice if they'd make a movie based on the truth because in my opinion, it would be much more interesting than this.

Hillary Swank's accent is regrettable and her acting is over the top. I've seen her do MUCH better in her other films. She is lovely in the historical costumes and the wigs are wonderful. We see a young Hayden Panettiere as well who plays a sorrowful Jeanne very nicely. Adrian Brody is hilariously bad as a womanizer. I don't know if that was his intention but that's how it happened. I enjoyed the scene between him and doctor after being shot in the 'fleshy tissues'. Joely Richardson is a MUCH better Marie Antoinette than Kirsten Dunst but not as good as Diane Kruger. I enjoyed watching Joely Richardson very much and wished she had more scenes. She stole the movie from the other actors.

This movie is more sympathetic towards Jeanne than Antoinette and the queen is played as a bit callous, which was it's aim. This is touch and go with viewers who come to this movie after appreciating more sympathy towards the doomed queen in Sofia Coppola's version, or after reading sticky sweet historical fiction. I enjoy seeing many sides of the same story so this was enjoyable for me. Others may not enjoy seeing the queen they imagine in their minds the way she is portrayed here. In this film, everyone has blood on their hands in some way, but the movie tries to set up the viewer to believe that Jeanne was justified after losing her rightful home and being denied any true justice through 'proper channels'. But that was not necessarily the case if you've read anything about the subject.

Also, this makes it seem as if the affair sent the people over the edge towards regicide. In reality, before this ever even happened the people were rising up and making plans. The affair was not even truly the last straw. The revolution would have happened without this incident, because by that time things had gotten unbearable long before. It was a catalyst but not nearly a cause. If it hadn't been the necklace, it would have been something else.

Watch the movie with more than a grain of salt, use a whole shaker. Take in the gorgeous sets and costumes. Eat up the eye candy. But don't think too much about it.
10 people found this helpful
glenhighlandReviewed in the United States on October 20, 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars
A very good story
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Wonderful movie, Hilary Swank, two Academy Awards, Adryan Brody, one Academy Award, Jonathan Pryce, two Tony Awards, and Simon Baker, future Emmy Award winner! And what a supporting cast! The story: A young girl watches as her father is killed, her mother dies of bereavement, and their estate completely destroyed. She lives for one thing, to get it all back, the house and all it's riches, but mostly her family name. She comes to court to once again petition the Queen for an interview, but is turned down. She meets someone who is willing to take her under his wing and guide her through the steps that were required before she could be granted an interview at court. I will go no further with the story but there is a change of plans when they come up with a brilliant plan involving a soothsayer, a Cardinal, an ex-husband, a French Queen, and diamond necklace.
The costuming, make-up, set design told so much of the story, but the script had just enough dialog to keep it going. Rent it. OH! I forgot,
Christopher Walken, one Academy Award.
4 people found this helpful
AgilebrainzReviewed in the United States on September 4, 2016
4.0 out of 5 stars
Another welcome Period Piece.
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Its hard to say a movie isn't good when the cast is as star studded as this one. Its visually stunning as well, so if you like historical fiction (aka period pieces) and can tolerate a few inaccuracies for the sake of the story, you'll probably like this one as much as I did.
I"m not sure what they were going for in Hillary Swank's character and the hair style did little to help with that odd feeling that she was 'a woman out of time', but I cannot fault her acting for this as others did. She has become a bit typecast over the years, which is a shame. The character of the Cardinal was a rather typical caricature, but Jonathan Price did what he could with it and carried it off. I wish we could have seen more from Adrien Brody and Joely Richardson, and I could listen to Brian Cox's narrative voice all day long, not to mention that when he sneers in any movie, it makes my skin crawl!
2 people found this helpful
C. CollinsReviewed in the United States on January 4, 2013
3.0 out of 5 stars
Historical accuracy would have made a better film
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This historic drama has an excellent cast with superb sets and costumes. The fundamental weakness of the film is that the heroine, Jeanne Valois-St. Remy was a criminal and the film tries to make her into a heroine fighting injustice. It just doesn't hold together when this young woman, supposedly wronged by the French royal family, seeks revenge because she was ignored. Her revenge is too self-serving to be credible, thus there remains a structural weakness in the plot and screenplay that just does not work with most viewers. The unfortunate aspect of the film is that it would have been a stronger film if it had been more historically accurate and shown Jeanne as a calculating criminal engaged in a scam. There has been much criticism of Hilary Swank's portrayal of Jeanne but I found that she does a credible job of acting with a script that lacked internal consistency.

The character of Marie-Antoinette was well played by Joely Richardson. Marie-Antoinette was the innocent victim of the entire scam since the public believed she secretly tried to purchase the necklace through Cardinal de Rohan because the country was in debt and such a purchase for the queen would have run against public opinion.

The character of Cardinal de Rohan was played well by Jonathan Pryce. The cardinal was a low-life of high birth. As a young bishop, he alienated Queen Maria-Theresa of Austria on a state visit to Vienna by trying to undermine the marriage arrangements between Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette and he also made a spectacle of himself in Vienna by his lavish womanizing. Years later he wishes to rise in the political structure but is stopped by the Queen. He is vulnerable to the complex scam created to deprive him of considerable funds to purchase the necklace, thinking it is for the queen. Pryce plays this gullible evil man very well.

Simon Baker does a great job playing the gigolo Retaux de Vilette and Adrian Brody is also good playing the husband of Jeanne, Count Nicholas De La Motte. Christopher Walker plays the shady magician and shaman Count Cagliostro. Brian Cox is excellent as the austere Minister Breteuil, the character that tries to figure out the scam and protect the royal family. Paul Brooke plays jeweler Brehmer. Brooke is an excellent character actor who has appeared in countless films. The entire cast was excellent.

The costumes were perfect and must have cost a fortune. The film supposedly cost 20 million dollars and the cast, costumes, and settings were all exceptional. It is a shame that the screenplay was distorted with some misplaced desire to make Jeanne into a heroine when the facts would have made more sense and given a better final product. In the end, the screenwriter, and thus the director, did not trust the intelligence of the viewer. They assumed they needed to make Jeanne into a sympathetic heroine rather than a complex conniving criminal. This was an error that undermined the entire project.
One person found this helpful
Jecca V.Reviewed in the United States on January 7, 2014
2.0 out of 5 stars
It was pretty to look at, at least...
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With any movie based on historical events, one expects writers and directors to take certain liberties with the facts. Some fascinating bits of history have a very hard time fitting into a 2 hour movie, and movies designed to appeal to a wide audience can't operate on the assumption that every member of that audience knows the source material.
I get that.

What I don't get is the seemingly bizarre decision to alter Jeanne's background for this film. In my opinion, turning her into the tragic heroine daughter of a wronged noble family isn't just a far cry from her origins-- it makes the rest of the plot seem flimsy and dissatisfying. The original story would've made more sense and would've made for a far better movie that would've required less plot-spackle to smooth out. I've seen alterations made to save time, simplify things, or reduce the number of major characters. This is the first time I've seen alterations done just to make the creators work harder on a worse film.

Furthermore, the actual Affair is interesting largely because Jeanne wasn't anyone of note beforehand. She was a cunning, clever schemer, and ultimately ended up out of her depth. Her audacity is part of what makes her an interesting antiheroine. She knew what she wanted, and was a key player in a complicated and very nearly successful plot to get it. There aren't many people who can claim to have done what she did, even if it ultimately wasn't successful.
By contrast, there isn't much that's unique or interesting about a wronged character seeking revenge and a redemption of family honor. It seems a bit odd that a character like that would resort to an intrigue as morally questionable as the Affair of the Necklace (especially the way Jeanne's initially presented in this movie), and it's easy to anticipate the plot failing even if you aren't aware of the actual historical outcome.

Jeanne was opportunistic, ambitious, cunning, and propelled by greed. She doesn't need to be a good person to be an interesting one. In the hands of a capable writer and director, she doesn't even need to be a good person to evoke sympathy. This Jeanne is a Frankenstein's hodgepodge of wronged victim tropes that isn't just a disservice to the actual Jeanne, she's dull and undermines the plot. At the end of the day, she just makes a far better Danny Ocean than she does a Rob Roy.
One person found this helpful
lawrence chanReviewed in the United States on November 11, 2014
5.0 out of 5 stars
Highly entertaining period piece. pure fantasy and fun.
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OK, so it's not an historically accurate documentary. If that's what you're looking for, rent a fabulous Ken Burns film and be happy.
This is hollywood and Hollywood's job is to take enormous leaps of artistic liberties and entertain the audience.
There IS a HUGE difference between how historical narratives and literary adaptations are handled by contemporary film makers as opposed to their predecessors of the old studios.
Many a time, I prefer the old studio school of thought; tight story, to the point, distilled to the essence.
With the exception of Merchant Ivory films and other film makers of their caliber, both Hollywood and HBO type endeavors are deliberately over the top (and even ridiculous) in every which way and most people should and do expect this.
It's all about ENTERTAINMENT and fantasy.
One person found this helpful
Roy S. Alba IIReviewed in the United States on June 6, 2019
1.0 out of 5 stars
Don't waste your money!
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Acting was good and so were the settings. However, the Brits are much better portraying the characters than Americans...lets face it Americans can only portray Americans. Where it fails is in the plot. Totally BORING!
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