War and Peace (2007) features romance, Russia, and Regency costumes. This adaptation of the novel by Leo Tolstoy has a surprisingly decent budget, good costumes, and great acting, all of which help to outweigh some drippy plot points. Here is my War and Peace (2007) costume movie review!
I’m not sure why, but I had no idea this existed until I recently found it for rental on iTunes. It stars talented French actress Clemence Poesy, which made me take a shot on it. I’m glad I did, because it was nice to watch something where I didn’t know what was going to happen (I admit, I’ve never read the book or seen any of the adaptations).
It’s a four-part miniseries that was a Russian, French, German, Polish, and Italian production. It’s mostly in English, except for church sermons randomly in Russian. The story, in general, follows some aristocratic Russian families from 1805 through the War of 1812, when Napoleon invaded Russia, getting as far as Moscow.
It has an international cast: the aforementioned Poesy, plus Alessio Boni, Malcolm McDowell, Brenda Blethyn, and Valentina Cervi. Given the “War” part of the title, there’s a LOT of scenes that are mostly men in uniform … and I was pleasantly pleased that most of said men were HOT HOT HOT:
Overall, the acting was very strong by all of the cast. The characters were believable, even if I sometimes rolled my eyes at their choices.
It was actually filmed in Russia, which made for some gorgeous locations:
While I’m sure advances in CGI technology should get part of the credit, it was nice to see a costume movie with war scenes that actually had the budget to put enough soldiers on screen for the battle scenes. Although I don’t really care much about fighting scenes, I do tend to scoff at productions that seem to have about 15 extras, which they try to hide through a lot of tight closeups.
The costumes were designed by Enrica Biscossi, an Italian designer. Overall, I think she did a good job! Few of the women’s costumes were OMG FABULOUS, but they were nicely done and correct for the period:
Given how much screen time the military men got, it’s a good thing that their costumes were REALLY well done. It doesn’t hurt that military uniforms of this era are HOT HOT HOT.
And now, some SPOILER-y complaints about the plot. Some of it is Tolstoy’s fault, others may be the filmmakers’ fault in that they didn’t sell me on some aspects of the story.
I liked Natasha in the first half of the story, even if she was the Regency Manic Pixie Dream Girl. I did get irritated in the first scene, when she was complaining about not being able to breathe in her corset. It’s such a stupid, incorrect, overdone trope that women couldn’t breathe in corsets. I also scoffed at the response, that it would make her waist look small — what waist? This is the Regency era!
As the plot progressed, I got relatively irritated with how much Natasha’s family cosseted her. Look, clearly your daughter is kind of an idiot. She dumps Really Hot Guy because he’s busy saving the country, and now she’s sad. WAH. POOR NATASHA. LET US TREAT HER VERY GENTLY BECAUSE SHE IS S.P.E.C.I.A.L. WITH LOTS OF MAGICAL UNICORN DUST FLOATING AROUND HER.
And in line with that … should we really stick Prince Andrei in a carriage and let him bleed to death and/or get gangrenous simply so we can spare Natasha the heart-fluttering news that her Hot Ex got shot? And speaking of which, perhaps the best option for nursing a gun shot victim isn’t just holding his hand and sparkling at him, but instead cleaning his wound and changing dressings and trying to find a doctor.
Finally, while I liked Pierre and thought he was sweet and interesting, I so didn’t buy that Natasha was actually into him. It seemed like they had a deep, brother/sister relationship, then he decided she was The One. Meanwhile, she found The One, stupidly dumped him for The Cad, and then settled for The Alive Guy.
Oh, and Petya was annoying. I was happy to see him die, the little shit. I’m sure in the novel it’s all very heart-wrenching, but in the miniseries all I could think was, “You’re 12. Shut up.”