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Starting with our second Snark Week, I’ve picked a shitty frock flick to recap, because I love sharing the blow-by-blows with you. While I’ve asked you to choose for the past few years, I decided to executive decision things this year, since y’all keep refusing to choose this gem — so this year, I will recap Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story (1987). Armand Assante as Napoleon! Jacqueline Bisset as Josephine! First, you must know that the costumes for this were designed by Michel Fresnay, who has designed numerous operas as well as a few TV movies, and was nominated for an Emmy for Best Costume Design. Let’s do this!
Picking up from yesterday…
Josephine invites Napoleon to dinner:
Josephine tries to hook up with Napoleon; he proposes marriage; she refuses, saying she’s been a wife before and it is much more fun to be a mistress. He tells her he loves her; she says she doesn’t love him (hello, she’s known him about two minutes!). They clinch (sadly, no tender fireplaces in sight).
Napoleon’s brothers are pissed he’s hooking up with Josephine. They fight, and midway through Napoleon suffers an epileptic seizure (which apparently is true, although “the epileptic seizures were the result of chronic uremia from a severe urethral stricture caused by gonorrhea that was transmitted from his wife, Empress Josephine” according to this scholarly source).
Josephine tells Barras she doesn’t want to marry Napoleon, but Barras says he’s going to stop paying for her house, obviously as a way to force her hand. I’m totally unclear why he (and Therese) are so invested.
Napoleon and Josephine get married! He talks through the whole service, because he’s a busy, busy man.
Mom Bonaparte gets the wedding news and is PISSED her son is marrying an OLDER woman of no particular import. Cue “viper in my bosom” speeches!
She decides she needs to send her daughter, Pauline (Ione Skye from Say Anything), to Paris to keep a closer eye on things. Pauline is stoked; other daughter, Caroline, is mute.
Caroline is played by Julie Graham of The Bletchley Circle.
Napoleon is being posted to Italy. He bids Josephine farewell.
Napoleon gives inspirational speeches and kicks butt in Italy. I refuse to recap any war shit. He’s been writing Josephine several times a day and demands answers to every letter. She can’t keep up and is stressed.
Napoleon has won a major victory in Italy. Crowds appear outside Josephine’s house calling for her. She finally goes to the window, but has flashbacks of the guillotine (mob = scary to Josephine).
Napoleon’s brother Joseph and sister Pauline are randomly in the crowd (what, they can’t, like, introduce themselves to their brother’s wife?). Pauline flirts with a military officer.
At some kind of weekend house party … Napoleon wants Josephine to come visit him at the front. In order to get her out of it, Barras tells Napoleon she’s pregnant. Therese tells her the problem is handled, and Josephine is pissed. She once again feels like a piece of meat with no say in her own life … plus, Napoleon is smothering her by letter.
Josephine plays pool with Mr. Tits Pervert, while a young block of wood admires her. The block of wood is Capt. Hippolyte Charles (Patrick Cassidy who played Johnny Castle in the Dirty Dancing TV series, which I didn’t previously know existed).
Josephine continues to be upset about not having any agency. She bitches to Therese, then yells at Barras.
Then Josephine cries and hooks up with Block of Wood.
Meanwhile, Napoleon pines for Josephine, knowing she doesn’t love him — yet.
Josephine is eating breakfast while the Block of Wood is telling her how much he loves her, and that he has a surprise for her. She’s clearly not feeling him anymore. Josephine is being sent to Italy to join Napoleon. She says goodbye to her son, then heads out to the carriage to find that, surprise, her brother-in-law (Joseph) AND her lover are joining her for the journey, along with Mr. Tits Pervert. She’s Not Happy.
Various tedious war stuff happens with Napoleon, particularly him interacting with a soldier who’s lost an eye (and who has the worst accent imaginable — “It-ly! Where’s that?”), but I refuse to recap it because zzzz.
Josephine arrives in Italy along with her daughter’s governess, Louise, who I guess is now Josephine’s maid? And daughter Hortense’s dog? Joseph wants to Speak To Napoleon but Napoleon says not now. Block of Wood says “GOODBYE, Josephine” in a super portentous way. Just before her arrival, a soldier had told Napoleon she’s lost the (fictional) baby. He’s all grief but also trying to comfort her, telling her they’ll have more babies. Josephine is surprised to find that she’s in love with Napoleon. They clinch.
Josephine is in bed. Louise brings her letters, one of which is from the Block of Wood. Josephine goes to take a bath, and Louise peeks at the letter.
Josephine goes to Verona … to meet up with the Block of Wood, who’s told her he’s sick or injured. He’s not, he just wanted to see her. At a museum, she breaks things off with him, telling him she took advantage of him. The soldier accompanying her tells her they need to leave as a battle is about to take place.
Josephine ends up in the middle of the battle. She has to flee for her life on foot and hide in the woods; the soldier protecting her is killed. For a while, Napoleon doesn’t know what happened to her and is terrified, but she’s located.
Stay tuned for part 3 of our recap of Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story tomorrow!