Jeanne du Barry review – Johnny Depp is a lumpen Louis XV in passionless period drama

<span>Maïwenn curtsies to a ‘deadweight’ Johnny Depp as the king in Jeanne du Barry.</span><span>Photograph: Stephanie Branchu</span>
Maïwenn curtsies to a ‘deadweight’ Johnny Depp as the king in Jeanne du Barry.Photograph: Stephanie Branchu

The illegitimate daughter of, according to this version of events at least, a cook and a monk, Jeanne (played by Maïwenn as an adult, and by model Loli Bahia as an adolescent) soon learns to monetise her God-given gifts, becoming the toast of 18th-century Parisian society as a celebrated courtesan. But the court of Louis XV (Johnny Depp, bewigged and appearing somewhat befuddled to find himself in a French-language costume drama) is less receptive to her specific skill set, and Jeanne is faced with open hostility when the king selects her to be his maîtresse-en-titre, or chief mistress.

Fuelled by sexual misadventures, grand scandals and gossip, feuds and aristocratic treachery, at the very least this picture, which Maïwenn directs as well as stars in, should be a robustly disreputable romp. But it’s a curiously inert affair: constrained, corseted, passionless and saddled with a lumpen, Depp-shaped deadweight where there should be a pulse-racing core of power and desire.