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Ridicule is a French film written by Remi Waterhouse, Michel Fessler and Eric Vicaut and directed by Patrice Leconte. The movie stars Charles Berling, Jean Rochefort, Fanny Ardant and Judith Godreche. The film pertains to 18th century France and the decadent court at Versailles. There, social climbers hone their ability to concoct and compete with witty insults in order to avoid personal ridicule. The story examines the social injustices present in that period, exposing the callousness and corruption of aristocrats.

The story begins in 1783 when Chevalier de Milletail (played by Carlo Brandt) visits an elderly Monsieur de Blayac (played by Lucien Pascal), confined to a chair. He is taunted about his past wit, reminding him of how he had humiliated de Milletail, who then then urinates on the old man.

In Dombes, the Baron Gregoire Ponceludon de Malavoy (played by Charles Berling) is a lower aristocrat engineer. As one of the few who care about the peasant plight, he is horrified at their illness and death from mosquitoes. He goes to Versailles to obtain King Louis XVI’s help.

However, before arriving, he is beaten and robbed. The Marquis de Bellegarde (played by Jean Rochefort), a physician helps him to recover. He is also taught about wit which is the main method to make it at the King’s court. Though he becomes successful, Ponceludon sees that Versailles court is shallow and corrupt.

Through an alliance with Madame de Blayac, she agrees to arrange an audience with the King. However, when the cannoneer insults Ponceludon, he is forced to demand a duel. The cannoneer is killed and Ponceludon is told that the King is unable to meet a person who killed an officer.

Madame de Blayac is infuriated to find that Ponceludon left her for Mathilde and plots revenge. Ponceludon goes to a costume ball of wits. He arrives with Mathilde and is tripped. The embarrassed Ponceludon condemns them for their decadence, insisting that they have no compassion. He decides to drain the infested swamp himself, leaving with Mathilde.

| 1996 | 1 hr 42 min | 7.4/10
Charles Berling, Jean Rochefort, Fanny Ardant, Judith Godrèche
Patrice Leconte
Produced By
Frdric Brillion, Philippe Carcassonne, Gilles Legrand
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Also starring Charles Berling