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The historical drama stars Joaquin Phoenix in the titular role as Napoleon Bonaparte, the military mastermind and Emperor of France. It spans 32 years from the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789 to Napoleon’s death on St Helena in 1821, and explores significant battles as well as the romantic turmoil with his wife Joséphine de Beauharnais.
Phoenix was spotted walking out of the film’s premiere in Paris on Tuesday (November 14) before it started. He also didn’t give any interviews to journalists on the red carpet but did pose for photographs alongside his co-star in the film, Vanessa Kirby.
Elsa Keslassy, Executive Editor of International at Variety, tweeted: “He didn’t give any interviews at the world premiere of Napoleon in Paris. And he walked out of the theatre before the movie started. Is he still in character?”
Joaquin Phoenix didn’t miss journalists during the 118-day SAG-AFTRA strike. He didn’t give any interviews at the world premiere of #Napoleon in Paris. And he walked out of the theater before the movie started. Is he still in character? pic.twitter.com/Rzri7DVDmx
— Elsa Keslassy (@ElsaKeslassy) November 14, 2023
Variety‘s Peter Debruge celebrated Scott’s visual prowess, writing of the battle scenes in Toulon: “It’s not often that a filmmaker manages to deliver an image of war that audiences haven’t seen before, and this early example sets a high bar.”
“From the master of the modern epic, comes an undeniably impressive technical achievement,” he wrote elsewhere, before noting Phoenix’s “oddly anti-charismatic” portrayal of the military tactician.
While Peter Bradshaw, critic for The Guardian, was taken with Phoenix’s central portrayal. “But for Phoenix he is the arch satirist and grinning mastermind, the outsider, the brilliant observer and exploiter of other people’s weaknesses, the proto-capitalist entrepreneur, grabbing power, boosting confidence, bolstering the printed paper money. Later people might be nicknamed the Napoleon of Crime, but Phoenix’s Napoleon is already that,” he wrote.
Napoleon is released in cinemas from November 22, with a four-hour director’s cut set to arrive on Apple TV+ at a later date. The theatrical edit spans 157 minutes.