By Amanda Gilmore
Jude Law is superbly horrendous as Henry VIII in Director Karim Aïnouz’s first English-language Film.
Firebrand begins with the King’s sixth and final wife, Catherine Parr (Alicia Vikander), left in charge while he’s away. When he returns, obese with swollen oozy legs, Catherine is forced to the side once again. She sees a better way to rule and hopes to influence her husband in the right direction. However, will that determination cause her to end up like her husband’s prior five wives?
At the beginning of the Film, we are told that history is mainly told about men and wars. Firebrand is telling history about neither of the two. It’s proudly focusing on the brave, intelligent Catherine. It’s the first film about Henry VIII told actually from a Feminist point of view.
Catherine cares for all of the prior wives’ children as though they were her own. She is generous to her servants. She even warns her childhood friend whose a vocal critic of the King of his return, even though she’s aware that this act of rebellion may lead to her death. Vikander gives a fierce performance as the courageous Catherine. It’s one that will be among the finest of the year.
Director Aïnouz delivers a brutal Historical Drama that forces you to watch the inhumanity of Henry VIII. His wickedness fully unleashes when his fragile ego leads him to concoct a belief that Catherine has been cheating on him. While Catherine is pregnant, Henry hits, drags and attempts to rape her over this false belief he’s created. Aïnouz’s unflinching direction focuses on this barbarity. It’s a performance from Law unlike any other in his already remarkable career. He’s truly grotesque, revelling in his cruelty. The pairing of Vikander and Law makes for one enthralling showdown that leads to one of the most satisfying film endings.
Firebrand screens at Cannes ’23:
Sun May 21 at 7:30PM at GRAND THÉÂTRE LUMIÈRE
Mon May 22 at 9AM at GRAND THÉÂTRE LUMIÈRE
Mon May 22 at 1:30PM at AGNÈS VARDA THEATRE
Mon May 22 at 2PM at CINEUM IMAX
Mon May 22 at 7PM at LICORNE
Tue May 23 at 12PM at CINEUM AURORE
Wed May 24 at 12PM at CINEUM SCREEN X
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