The Horseman On The Roof

on October 06, 1995 by Wade Major
Six years after his Gerard Depardieu-starrer "Cyrano de Bergerac" received worldwide acclaim as the definitive screen presentation of that literary classic, director Jean-Paul Rappeneau and his "Cyrano" team have worked their magic with yet another French treasure, Jean Giono's "The Horseman on the Roof." Set mostly in France's famed Provence region during the infamous 1832 cholera epidemic, the story follows two strangers, brought together by circumstance, as they join to find a way to their respective homes past military roadblocks, quarantines, Austrian assassins and the ever-present hand of death.
   Angelo (Olivier Martinez, Cesar winner for "1 2 3 Soleil" but new to American screens) is an exiled Hussard nobleman headed back to Italy to join the revolution against the Austrian Empire. Pauline de Theus (Juliette Binoche) is the wife of a wealthy marquis simply trying to make her way north to her husband. Together, they brave the best and the worst of a harsh yet beautiful 19th-century world, finding solace and dignity in their mutual resolve to survive and succeed at all costs.
   A ravishing spectacle of epic proportions, this Miramax Zoe release ranks among the most satisfying imports to grace American screens in years, a rousing blend of swashbuckling adventure, chivalrous romance and intense human drama. Along with esteemed co-writers Nina Companeez and Jean-Claude Carriere (France's answer to Robert Bolt), Rappeneau has fashioned an exceedingly literate yet accessible script of which novelist Giono would undoubtedly be proud. Rappeneau's direction, likewise, pulls no punches in depicting the material's grittier elements while embellishing Giono's unabashed romanticism with every cinematic trick at his disposal.
   As he did with Vincent Perez in "Cyrano," Rappeneau has unveiled yet another extraordinary talent in Martinez, an exceptionally handsome and talented actor who should have little trouble exporting his French heartthrob status worldwide. Binoche, meanwhile, adds yet another flawless performance to her impressive international resume, while hometown favorite Jean Yanne excels in one of several amusing cameos. World-class work from cinematographer Thierry Arbogast and composer Jean-Claude Petit cap the first-rate technical credits. Starring Juliette Binoche, Olivier Martinez, Pierre Arditi and Jean Yanne. Directed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau. Written by Jean-Paul Rappeneau, Nina Companeez and Jean-Claude Carriere. Produced by Rene Cleitman. A Miramax release. Drama. French-language; subtitled. Rated R for a scene of nudity. Running time: 118 min
Tags: Juliette Binoche, Olivier Martinez, Pierre Arditi, Jean Yanne, Jean-Paul Rappeneau. Written by Jean-Paul Rappeneau, Nina Companeez and Jean-Claude Carriere. Produced by Rene Cleitman. A Miramax, drama

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