The Man In The Iron Mask

It's bitchin' to be the king: You can throw tantrums, order executions and flounce around in ruffles and lace without fear of being called "girlie man." And when you learn of the secret identical twin who might threaten your royal claim on the throne -- the hearts and minds of the people having been lost around the time you ordered rotten food distributed...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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It's bitchin' to be the king: You can throw tantrums, order executions and flounce around in ruffles and lace without fear of being called "girlie man." And when you learn of the secret identical twin who might threaten your royal claim on the throne

-- the hearts and minds of the people having been lost around the time you ordered rotten food distributed to them -- you can stash him in an oubliette deep in the Bastille, his face concealed behind a C3PO-esque mask. The year is 1662: Spoiled despot Louis (Leonardo DiCaprio), the biggest brat in

France, is served faithfully by his bodyguard D'Artagnan (Gabriel Byrne), who bears his job out of loyalty to the crown and love for Louis' mother (Anne Parillaud). The rest of the musketeers have scattered: Aramis (Jeremy Irons) to the church, Porthos (Gerard Depardieu) to his cups and Athos

(John Malkovich) to solitary grief -- Louis shipped his son off to die in some pointless foreign war so he could seduce the lad's lovely fiancee (Judith Godreche). The directing debut of BRAVEHEART scripter Randall Wallace, this dopey swashbuckler offers little action but lashings of DiCaprio's

soft, hairless flesh. By Hollywood standards, no star coming off a hit like TITANIC is ever miscast, but by any other measure the adolescent heartthrob -- who spends much of the film under picture hats that might have daunted Kate Winslet -- is egregiously unsuited to period roles. He embodies the

casual posture and unaffected speech of American youth, which doesn't really suit the formal opulence of Versailles: The intersection of pomp and slack isn't pretty. The production is pure studio grandeur and gloss, though the mix of accents among the musketeers is a bit hard on the ear: Irons'

clipped British cadences clash with Malkovich's strangled Midwestern murmur and Byrne's Irish lilt; Depardieu at least is French, which may be why he feels free to fart, belch and swear his way through a beloved work of literature.

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  • Released: 1998
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: It's bitchin' to be the king: You can throw tantrums, order executions and flounce around in ruffles and lace without fear of being called "girlie man." And when you learn of the secret identical twin who might threaten your royal claim on the throne -- t… (more)

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