The Toronto Film Festival is only half over, and though several promising festival films have already emerged as Oscar contenders—like Foxcatcher, The Theory of Everything, and Wild—there are still several curious and intriguing movies yet to debut. One of them is A Little Chaos, Alan Rickman’s period romantic-drama that will be TIFF’s closing-night film on Sept. 14. Kate Winslet stars as Sabine De Barra, a strong-willed 17th-century French gardener who challenges sexual and class barriers when she vies to design and build one of the main showcase attractions at King Louis’s XIV’s new palace at Versailles. Using wit and intelligence, she attracts the attention of the court’s renowned landscape architect, André Le Nôtre (The Drop‘s Matthias Schoenaerts), and comes face to face with the Sun King himself, who demands the gardens become a paradise of unrivaled beauty.
Who else to play such an all-powerful king that Rickman himself, who can convey more disdain or disinterest with one raised eyebrow than most actors can with a lengthy soliloquy. A Little Chaos is Rickman’s first time back behind the camera since The Winter Guest in 1997—though he’s directed several theatrical plays in between. A Winter Guest starred Emma Thompson, a longtime friend of Rickman’s from Sense and Sensibility. With A Little Chaos, Rickman reunited with the other Dashwood sister, and the actor/director marvels at the actress and the woman she has become.
In an exclusive scene from the film, which is in Toronto hunting for distribution, Winslet’s Sabine arrives at the king’s gardener’s plot to swap some shrubs and flowers. But the head gardener isn’t there, sent away earlier by the king himself so he could enjoy some solitude surrounded by beauty. For better or worse, Sabine doesn’t recognize her king when she meets him face-to-face for the first time. READ FULL STORY