The Horseman On The Roof
An Italian patriot (Olivier Martinez) flees Austrian soldiers through a cholera-ridden (but scenic) part of France in the early 19th century in The Horseman On The Roof, the most expensive French film ever made. Though it benefits from the always-luminous presence of first-rate actress Juliette Binoche, there's nothing here that explains France's investment in a story that, if it were a book, could easily have a picture of Fabio on the cover. In the movie's first half, Martinez flees for his life, broods, smokes cigars, watches people die, and then flees for his life some more. In the second half, he joins Binoche for endless scenes of horseback riding and never-quite-believable sexual tension set against postcard-quality scenery. Then they flee for their lives together. And that's about it. There's a sequence in which Martinez bonds with a stray cat, and the two of them generate more chemistry than is found in any other part of the film. It's the type of costume drama in which the costumes outshine the drama.