Watch Ridicule

"Wit is the ultimate weapon."
  • R
  • 1996
  • 1 hr 42 min
  • 7.3  (8,057)
  • 80

In the 18th century, Ridicule follows the story of a young and idealistic Baron de Sigognac, who comes from a poor family but wants nothing more than to create a better world for himself and his family. He comes up with an ingenious plan to get recognized by the aristocracy: to impress the king by draining the malaria-infested marshes in his hometown. However, in order to get support from the powerful courtiers, he has to become a part of their vicious game of wit and satire. He enters the world of Versailles, where the powerful elite use their skill with words and humor as weapons to compete for the king's favor.

There, Sigognac meets a group of brilliant but cynical aristocrats, who introduce him to the world of 'ridicule.' Ridicule is the art of using wit and satire to humiliate political and social opponents. He is welcomed into this group as a potential asset, but first, he must demonstrate his skill with language and his wit in front of them. This is where he meets Madame de Blayac, a woman of stunning beauty and remarkable wit, who soon becomes his mentor and love interest.

At this point, Ridicule becomes a story of social climbing, love, and betrayal. Sigognac is introduced to the Parisian salons and the political intricacies of Versailles where he soon realizes that everyone has a secret agenda. He is torn between his ideals and the desire to become one of the elite, and his conscience is disturbed by their callous disregard for the less fortunate. His mentor, Madame de Blayac, encourages him to use his eloquence to ridicule those who oppose his goals.

Throughout the movie, the characters are complex and fascinating, and their motivations are ambiguous. Jean Rochefort, who plays the Marquis de Bellegarde, is particularly stunning in his portrayal of a man driven by his own desires, whose only interest in Sigognac is as a tool to further his own ambitions. Charles Berling is also excellent as Sigognac, convincingly embodying the character's transformation from naive idealist to savvy, albeit conflicted, social climber.

The film is beautifully shot, with sumptuous costumes and lavish sets that evoke the grandeur of Versailles. The soundtrack is also noteworthy, with haunting melodies that underscore the tragic dimensions of the story. The film's themes of social inequality, political intrigue, and the human cost of ambition are timeless, making it a classic of French cinema.

Ridicule is both a fascinating portrait of the 18th century French aristocracy and a commentary on the corrupting influence of power. It is a powerful indictment of the cruelty and callousness that can arise when people use language to tear each other down, rather than lift each other up. At its core, Ridicule is a story about the danger of ignoring the consequences that our words and actions have on others, and the importance of using our privilege for good.

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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 42 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.3  (8,057)
  • Metascore