Johnny Depp Returns In A Compelling, Unfocused French Period Drama Film


  • A beautiful period piece about forbidden love in French history with Maïwenn stealing the show.
  • Film details Jeanne du Barry’s social climb to become the King’s mistress, but lacks focus.
  • Johnny Depp’s return to cinema lacks newness, overshadowed by Maïwenn’s talent playing the titular role.

Johnny Depp makes his theatrical return in Jeanne du Barry, a true story about forbidden love between King Louis XV of France and his favorite mistress, Jeanne du Barry. After highly-publicized legal proceedings that took place throughout 2022, Depp returned to the big screen with this independent French film, which had its debut at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. And while the film marks his return to cinema, he is outshone by the incredible Maïwenn, who directed and co-wrote the film, in addition to playing the titular role.

Jeanne du Barry is a historical drama that tells the story of the titular character who, on her journey out of the clutches of poverty, catches the eye of King Louis XV. Concealing her identity from him, Jeanne earns his favor, and the two fall in love, but upon moving to Versailles to deepen their relationship, scandal strikes France’s court.


  • A beautiful period piece about historic events.
  • Both Maïwenn and Depp have wonderful chemistry and excel in their roles.

  • The film fails to deliver anything new or remarkable.
  • The focus of the film is too broad.

Jeanne du Barry details the life of the title character from start to finish. A young girl born a commoner, Jeanne du Barry found favor with the wealthy and affluent people around her. She was then able to leverage this favor and her own charm to climb the social ladder until finally becoming a very public mistress to the King of France. However, while the King favored Jeanne, there were many that strongly opposed her and deemed her unworthy of the attention she received.


Jeanne Du Barry: Everything We Know About Johnny Depp’s New Movie

Johnny Depp stars as King Louis XV in his anticipated return to film – here’s everything we know about the French movie Jeanne Du Barry.

Johnny Depp Returns To His Roots In Jeanne Du Barry

Johnny Depp as a French royal containing his smile in Jeanne Du Barry

Early in Depp’s career, he frequently tackled roles in smaller films and projects, with one of his best hits being a movie called Chocolat. There, he plays a young man in a small French provincial town who ends up in a passionate, but frowned upon, romance by those in the community. Jeanne du Barry is very similar in tone, although the setting has been swapped from a small town to a palace in Versailles, and the lovers are no longer nomads, but social elites.

Maïwenn excels and her role affords her the opportunity to explore a full range of emotions.

Johnny Depp’s role allows him to once again explore romance and joy, but as Louis XV, he must also be discreet and composed. This feels like a departure from his more fun and carefree roles, but there are brief moments of his humor and love for life that peak through. However, the real star of the film is Maïwenn, a wonderful and talented actress who plays the adult version of Jeanne, Jeanne captures the heart of the King, and many of the people who come into contact with her.

Maïwenn excels and her role affords her the opportunity to explore a full range of emotions, from love and passion, to melancholy and rejection. She embodies a character that is easy to love and adore. And in the face of criticism from the rest of the Court, she holds her head high. The film falls short when it comes to the performances of the supporting cast, such as the daughters of the King. Crucially, however, it’s the film’s ambition that limits its success.

The Life Of Jeanne Du Barry Is Condensed Into Two Hours

The film’s script could have been tighter

Maiwenn walking the French hall in a period costume in Jeanne du Barry

In the span of two hours, the movie movies through Jeanne’s life at a fast pace, detailing her childhood, her youth, and her journey to becoming the King’s favorite mistress. Much of this is shown only briefly, with a voiceover detailing parts of Jeanne’s life. The majority of Jeanne du Barry then explores her romance with the King, but had more time been given to this relationship, and the additional scenes cut down, the story could have been much tighter.

The film lacks a clear focus, and feels too broad and hollow in parts.

Instead, Jeanne du Barry lacks a clear focus, and feels too broad and hollow in parts. While the early scenes offer some small context, they are much slower and more drawn out than other parts of the film. Jeanne’s life is seen as slow and easygoing, until she comes into contact with the King, and they have a whirlwind romance over a few short years.

The story is based on a period in history that immediately preceded the French Revolution, and highlights the pomp and ceremony associated with the Royal Family prior to their fall. For that reason, some of the rules and rituals featured in the film are alien to a modern audience, and the story did not do enough to provide context about how and why these rituals were important. As a result, Jeanne du Barry is a beautiful story, but lacks emphasis or innovation, which is essential in a period drama’s success.

Jeanne du Barry will be released in theaters in the US from May 2.

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