Plunkett & Macleane — starring Robert Carlyle, Johnny Lee Miller, and Liv Tyler — was never trying to be Shakespeare. It’s clearly a mash-up of 18th century with a big injection of Adam Ant. No matter, the costumes are some serious WTFrock!
I think the idea was to have one foot in the 17th century and one foot wherever we wanted. — Johnny Lee Miller, Plunkett & Macleane Behind the Scenes
The plot: Johnny Lee Miller and Robert Carlyle play highwaymen — Miller is the classy one, Carlyle the down and dirty — who team up to rob from the rich in a generally very light-hearted, dark comedy, “modern” take on the classic buddy/adventure film. Miller falls in love with Liv Tyler’s character, who’s a well-to-do lady who falls in with the bad boys. Alan Cumming plays a super fop who is hilarious. It’s fun and fast-paced and not too deep.
“The entire look is rococo,” says Mr. Cumming, one of the film’s stars, who brings to life the foppish, decadent Lord Rochester. Cumming says that the look of the film echoes the film’s themes: The characters are “all cocking a snook at authority,” he says, meaning that the irreverence evident in the period costumes, makeup, and set decoration echoes the Gentlemen Highwayman’s own attitude toward law and order. — ‘Plunkett’ mixes lavish costumes & MTV, Christian Science Monitor, 10/1/99
Now, Janty Yates (the costume designer for the film) knows her stuff. She’s designed costumes for Jude (1996, with Kate Winslet), Gladiator, Enemy at the Gates, Charlotte Gray, De-Lovely, Robin Hood (2010, with Russell Crowe), and Exodus: Gods & Kings. Clearly, she and the director (Jake Scott) wanted to twist the 18th century.
Nonetheless, if you start your movie by telling us that it’s 1748, I’m gonna say WTF? when I see costumes like these:
And, the pièce de résistance — Lady Estelle’s wedding gown. This can be yours for the surprisingly low price of $659. Sadly the Jetsons hat isn’t included.
See this dress in action yourself in this Behind the Scenes video starting at 2:55!
I particularly like the pillow ticking shooting dress.
The problem with movies like “Plunkett & MacLeane” and “Knight’s Tale” that try to be …”creative” with their respective periods is that fifteen years later everyone looks incredibly dated (I swear Liv Tyler almost looks like she could have stepped out of a 1990’s dELIA’s catalog), more so than if they’d been a little more faithful to the actual historical styles.
So true! Just like you can tell what “historical” movies were made in the 1930s (Gone With The Wind) or the 1950s (Auntie Mame).
I stopped reading after I saw “Alan Cumming as a fop.” I MUST see this movie!
It’s pretty hilarious on that account (& I love that black lace Liv Tyler dress — for a goth club more than for the movie, natch).