Incredibly strong awareness of the political and social dynamics of the time period, which is ... rare for a move about the late middle ages. Getting the right mix of intense reaction to a rapidly changing world driven by:
-vast demographic shifts due to brutal mid-century plagues, most clearly visible in this story by the occasional allusion to rising labor costs
-immense tension between people in power desperate to preserve the authority of the foundation for that power, The Church, as it squanders that authority in a century bracketed by the *huge* overreach of "Unam Sanctam" and the crisis of legitimacy created by the papal schism
-VERY slowly shifting gender dynamics driven by increased lay (and female) participation in the culture of the church and spurred in the secular realm by increased literacy and consequent indulgence in non-religious literature (a point of connection between Jacques and Marguerite)
But it wasn't just an "I did my research" show and tell, though I'll happily admit that I'd be a HUGE sucker for something with way less of a compelling story if they get the historical context down so successfully. Rather, they integrated all of this into a narrative, making these characters, to varying degrees, subjects of history rather than agents of it. The story drives home how much of these heavily ceremonialized rule of law is driven by a barely-subtextual rule of power. It places Jean de Carrouges in a growing category of impoverished nobels and Marguerite in a growing category of women who had just enough agency to truly endanger their own lives.
AND they actually stopped periodically to make it funny with the subtly demented work of Alex Lawther as King Charles, who came to the throne at some absurdly young age and was ... exactly as normal as you'd expect a child king in the 14th century to be. Watching that actor struggle to keep a crown on his head, get distracted mid-sentence, and clap like a seal was completely wonderful and a totally beautiful reminder that the people who demand to rule us have been, pretty much since forever, absolute baby brains.
The different perspectives played really nicely, propped up by some great performances. Horrifying to watch but really skilled how even both of the accounts that were clearly *rape* (jean de carrouges' and marguerite's) actually played very differently, where the former really focused on Jacque's action as the rapist while the latter focused on Marguerite's own pain and terror. I loved the slight comedy sprinkled in as neither Jean nor Jacques was capable of telling their own account without ridiculous self-aggrandizement (former as loving husband and honest worker, latter as sexy and charming, self-made man of the world) that ultimately falls apart as they reveal what screwed up doofuses they are.
And Jodie Comer is terrific, playing all things to all people in each of the different versions and kind of slowly emerging as actually herself by the conclusion. Just a really smart, well-crafted movie that was apparently a giant flop? Man, I'm looking forward to our financial ministers of culture finally figuring out how distribution is going to look in the post-COVID world. I have preferences, obviously. I love movie theaters but I'm also really lazy so whatever. But it bums me out that I nearly missed this movie and assume there must be all kinds of good stuff that I'm missing for mostly silly reasons.
"Walleye, a lot of things are going to go wrong in your life that technically aren't your fault. Always remember that this doesn't make you any less of an idiot"