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Love can be such a drag

Triumph of Love

Directed by: Clare Peploe

(Mia Sorvino, Ben Kingsley, Fiona Shaw, Jay Rodan)


The idea of love at first sight is a rather troubling one. I mean, the very concept that you can fall madly and deeply in love with someone based solely on visual contact with that person seems to fly in the face of all we as forward-thinking, moralistic, 21st century Good People want to believe constitutes love. After all, isn’t love something that can only be cultivated through countless hours of intimacy, revelation and sacrifice? Stripped of all these aspects, isn’t love merely lust, and couldn’t I honestly say that every Ladies’ Night I fall in love with no less than half of the girls at Sally’s?

Clare Peploe’s new film, The Triumph of Love illustrates the differences between lust and love and champions the former over the latter. The film, which is an adaptation of Pierre Marivaux’s 18th century comedy, relates the tale of a beautiful young princess (Mira Sorvino) who falls in love (at first sight, mind you) with a strapping young Adonis named Agis (Jay Roden) after she catches him bathing nude in a stream.

The problem: Agis is the true heir to the throne that was stolen from his family by the Princess’ father. In addition, Agis is watched over by his caretakers: a rationalist philosopher (Ben Kingsley) and a pragmatic scientist (Fiona Shaw) who have instilled their rational and pragmatic beliefs in Agis. Specifically, they have taught Agis to loathe romantic love and women in general.

Thus, in order to get to Agis, the princess must dress as a man and attempt to insinuate herself into their lives. Ultimately, slipping between her male and female personalities, the princess manages to seduce and become engaged to all three characters and must figure out how to remedy the situation without losing her love/lust object, Agis.

All of the acting performances are excellent and Peploe’s pleasantly frenetic direction plays well with the fast-paced dialogue. All of the technical aspects of the film are just great, from the convincing costumes and sets to the pitch-perfect musical score. The problem lies in the material itself and in the narrative’s message that it doesn’t matter whom you hurt or how many hearts you break in pursuit of your own shallow attraction. The film would be more accurately titled The Triumph of Lust.

– Christopher Yocum


Triumph of Love opens May 17.

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