This is a story of a woman in a man's world, a man's world that happens to be the gardens of Versailles which are being created for King Louis XIV (played in the film by Alan Rickman who also directed it). One of the gardeners is Sabine de Barras (played by Kate Winslet) who stirs things up quite considerably, not only by being a woman and not of noble birth but by having ideas about gardening that are diametrically opposing to the courtly obsession with order.
I'm not sure the story is entirely authentic. Winslet's character is convincing in herself, with her passion for her work, her unconventionality and her commitment to defying authority. On the other hand is she too modern for the time and setting? Would such a feisty feminist have even been taken on by the French court to manage and work in the gardens?
Louis XIV's court is made to look ridiculous, but then I have a suspicion that it probably was ridiculous.
It's a beautifully shot film with excellent performances and many entertaining scenes and telling moments. It's amazing to see the great gardens rise up against the odds, particularly Sabine's impressive project of a water garden with hidden orchestra, even though I prefer my gardens smaller and more subtle and the ecologist in me hated to see the natural landscape so changed out of recognititon.
A Little Chaos is showing at Edinburgh Filmhouse until 23 April