As I recently complained, I can’t believe 2017’s The Royal Exchange hasn’t gotten a US release — even for streaming. However, by writing a post complaining about this fact, I found out that there’s a full version on YouTube — with English subtitles! I’ve been waiting on this one for years, so I went straight to watch it.
Note: you can find higher quality original French or overdubbed Russian on my favorite probably-not-legit Russian site — ok.ru/video/ — which I’m not going to link to, because it’s dubious. I ended up taking screencaps from one of those versions, since the quality was better.
Overall, I guess I can see why this isn’t really a movie for American audiences. As I wrote in my preview review,
It’s about early 18th-century royal marriage matchmaking: set in 1721-1725, it tells the real story of Mariana Victoria of Spain, who was engaged to French King Louis XV; and Louise Elisabeth d’Orléans, daughter of the French regent who was married to Spanish King Louis I. As there are no spoilers in history, I’ll tell you: Mariana was only 4 (or 3?) years old, sent to France, and eventually returned to Spain as the French didn’t want to wait to marry off Louis XV. Meanwhile, Louise was 11. Her husband ascended the throne about three years later, but died shortly thereafter of smallpox; Louise was sent back to France.
It’s a fascinating story, and I actually went right out and read the book (back in 2017, so all I remember is the book was great) — but the film version is very quiet and slow. I think it’ll be definitely interesting to those like us who care about arranged royal marriages and dueling court etiquettes, but I can see that the average viewer might yawn. Unfortunately, not all of the characters are fully fleshed out, so it’s hard to understand some motivations — particularly Louise Elisabeth, who just seems petulant for no reason.
A few specifics on the plot/film itself before delving into the costumes:
Costumes in The Royal Exchange
The costumes were designed by Fabio Perrone, and I did a pretty thorough run-down of why they’re not 1720s in my preview post — and there isn’t really much more to say about that. Overall, they worked if I just assumed it was some vague time period between 1740-65 and didn’t focus on the fitted back gowns and too-narrow men’s jackets.
Instead of flogging that horse, I’m just going to talk about some things I thought were done well and others that weren’t so great.
The film did a particularly good job with outerwear. First, it existed! Outerwear doesn’t always get shown on screen. Second, they showed a number of interesting varieties. And third, they were all very voluminous, which the 1720s WAS all about.
While the coats should have been much fuller, they were still nicely made with excellent large cuffs and good fabrics.
The women’s outfits were a mixed bag. There were some nice elements, and others that were clunkity clunk clunk.
Apparently only Marianna and Mme de Ventadour had hairstylists. No one else even owned a comb!
Many of the older ladies in both the Spanish and French courts wore veils, which was nice to see.
Lounging wear occasionally showed up, sometimes for good, sometimes not:
Have you seen The Royal Exchange? What did you think?